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Ishiro Honda
A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa
Steve Ryfle, Ed Godziszewski; Yuuko Honda-Yun, contrib.; Martin Scorsese, fwd.

2017 • 336 pp. 118 illus. 7 x 10"
Film, TV, Visual Culture / Film & Video Direction & Production

$32.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7087-1

$26.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7741-2

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“[Up] to the challenge, a major achievement ... as authoritative a biography as [Honda] will probably ever receive. If you loved these movies as a kid (or even continue to do so in adulthood), this book will be mighty hard to put down.”—Steve Mcfarlane, Cineaste Magazine

The first comprehensive biography of the director behind Godzilla and other Japanese sci-fi classics

Ishiro Honda was arguably the most internationally successful Japanese director of his generation, with an unmatched succession of science fiction films that were commercial hits worldwide. From the atomic allegory of Godzilla and the beguiling charms of Mothra to the tragic mystery of Matango and the disaster and spectacle of Rodan, The Mysterians, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and many others, Honda’s films reflected postwar Japan’s real-life anxieties and incorporated fantastical special effects, a formula that appealed to audiences around the globe and created a popular culture phenomenon that spans generations. Now, in the first full account of this long overlooked director’s life and career, authors Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski shed new light on Honda’s work and the experiences that shaped it—including his days as a reluctant Japanese soldier, witnessing the aftermath of Hiroshima, and his lifelong friendship with Akira Kurosawa. Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa features close analysis of Honda’s films (including, for the first time, his rarely seen dramas, comedies, and war films) and draws on previously untapped documents and interviews to explore how creative, economic, and industrial factors impacted his career. Fans of Honda, Godzilla, and tokusatsu (special effects) film, and of Japanese film in general, will welcome this in-depth study of a highly influential director who occupies a uniquely important position in science fiction and fantasy cinema, as well as in world cinema.

Together, the authors have provided audio commentary tracks and produced supplemental material for numerous home video releases, including Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla for the British Film Institute. They co-produced the documentary feature Bringing Godzilla Down to Size (2008).

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Where the authors really triumph is in the wealth of information provided about the autobiographical, historical and cultural context to Honda’s work ... The impression gained from this impressively researched tome is of a self-effacing yet highly accomplished director with his own distinctive vision, who despite being hamstrung by the success of his most famous film managed a career that fully justifies the comprehensive and in-depth consideration presented here.”—Jasper Sharp, Sight & Sound: The International Film Magazine

“[A] wider, deeper and more valuable examination of not only one man’s career, but also the life that produced it and the system that nurtured it—and almost destroyed it.”—Mark Schilling, The Japan Times

“[A]n appreciation of Japanese fantasy-film history through the eyes of a filmmaker whose name is obscure but populism remains influential.”—Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

“Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, From Godzilla to Kurosawa should serve as a model of how to do a film biography—any biography, really. Beautifully designed and produced, Ishiro Honda incorporates many illustrative photographs of the Japanese director and his associates without becoming a coffee table book; the text is clearly written, free of academic jargon or fanboy effusions; the book answers to a need as the first full-length account in English of Honda.”—David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express

“[A] must-own title for anyone interested in Japanese science-fiction and Japanese cinema in general.”—Patrick Galvan,
Toho Kingdom

“Assembled from years of meticulous research, and detailing the entirety of Honda’s filmmaking spectrum, this prestige book offers an in-depth, revealing portrait of the man—as well as his movies—on a level previously unseen by western audiences.”—Patrick Galvan,

Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa accomplishes a lot in under 350 pages. Perhaps most impressively, it provides the reader with a lasting sense of the man—his temperament, values, philosophies, dreams, and disappointments—behind some of cinema’s most beloved characters (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra), while also exhaustively detailing the lifelong Toho director’s entire body of work (much of which is unavailable in the U.S. and even Japan).”—Chris Shields, Film Comment

“This carefully researched and detailed book gives us a full picture of the man and his life.”—From the preface by Martin Scorsese

“I first saw Godzilla in 1956 at the tender age of eight. Something about the film filled me with a somber dread—not the giant, fire-breathing monster destroying Tokyo, but the overall tone, an underlying sadness, a sense of grief and horror. Japan is the only nation to suffer atomic bombs dropped on two of its cities, and Godzilla gave powerful expression to this emotional ambience disguised as a giant monster movie. The director of this seminal motion picture was Ishiro Honda, the creator of an astonishing output of science-fiction and horror films from Toho Studios and one of my personal cinematic gods.”—John Carpenter

“Exhaustive researchers, Ryfle and Godziszewski delve deeply into the entirety of Honda’s sometimes harrowing life while defining his films within Japanese studio system and his later collaborations with Kurosawa. Filling a huge vacuum of needed scholarship, it’s required reading for genre fans and serious students of Japanese cinema alike.”—Stuart Galbraith IV, author of The Emperor and the Wolf

STEVE RYFLE has contributed film journalism and criticism to the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Cineaste, Virginia Quarterly Review, POV, and other publications. He is the author of a book on the history of the Godzilla film series. ED GODZISZEWSKI is editor and publisher of Japanese Giants magazine. He is the author of a Godzilla film encyclopedia, and has written for Fangoria and other publications.

Sun, 23 Sep 2018 14:40:11 -0500