Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Writing, Film, and Japan: An Expatriate's View: Conversation with Donald Richie, writer and film critic, 9/21/01 by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. Our guest today is Donald Richie, who visited the Bay Area as a special guest speaker at UC Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive, where he read from his writings and introduced the Kon Ichikawa film An Actor's Revenge. Donald Richie is an American expatriate who has lived in Japan for most of the last fifty years and has written extensively about Japan, its culture, and its people. He's the author of thirty books, and some of his writings have been collected in the recently published Donald Richie Reader.

  1. Background ... hometown ... parents ... making choices ... no role models
  2. Movies ... empowerment from movies, books, writing ... learning from movies ... seeing Citizen Kane ... becoming a filmmaker ... anything that life can do
  3. Writing .... reading for escape ... discovering writing ... empowered by the act of illuminating ... empowering, escaping, communicating, feeling ... typing skills ... leaving home to write ... the Merchant Marines ... diaries
  4. Japan: Discovery ... foreign service in Japan ... staff writer for Stars and Stripes ... reviewing American films ... secretly watching Japanese films ... the advantage of not knowing the language when watching cinema ... Western influence on Ozu and Kurosawa ... Ozu as modernist ... bringing Japanese cinema to the West
  5. Finding a Voice as an Expatriate Writer ... expatriation as self-expression ... freedom in outsider role ... empowered to compare and describe ... writing as habit ... feelings and writing ... Japan filled a need ... writing as a discipline like bodybuilding ... writing validates the days
  6. Japan: Retrospect ... summarizing the Japanese experience ... metamorphosis of Japanese culture... Japanese-like quality of his writing ... conclusion
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