Godzilla, samurai and anime at Belton’s Japanese Film Festival

Godzilla, samurai and anime at Belton’s Japanese Film Festival

In conjunction with the Anderson International Festival 2014: Youkoso, A Celebration of Japanese Culture, the Belton Area Museum Association will host a Japanese Film Festival beginning Feb. 13.

BAMA will introduce four famous Japanese movies to the public over the next two months. The movies will be shown in the center section performance hall at the historic Belton Train Depot, 100 N. Main Street, Belton, and will begin at 6 p.m. each night.

Scholars Dr. David Larson and Dr. Wayne Cox will introduce each film by discussing an important theme, topic, or content relevant to the individual films that will improve the community’s understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture and history.

“Prior to each film, Dr. Larson or Dr. Cox will offer brief discussions on topics including traditional and modern Japanese culture, Japanese filmmaking techniques, and Japanese heritage,” stated Alison Darby, BAMA volunteer.

The first film to be shown is Seven Samurai on Thursday, Feb. 13. Rooted deep in the Japanese culture is the power of the anomalous character of the samurai — dangerous, yet honor-bound. In this film from 1954, a poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help defend the village.

Before the movie, Larson will offer a brief presentation sharing the reasons for the pervasiveness of the samurai mythology and its importance in postwar Japan.

“The strength of an anomalous hero is that he just might be on your side. This is the case for the medieval Japanese peasants in Seven Samurai, and accounts for much of the film’s epic stature, both in Japan and around the world,” commented Larson.

Other films in the series:

Thursday, Feb. 27: Godzilla: Imperialism, Body Snatchers and the Post-Nuclear World in Japan
From the only nation in the world to have experienced first-hand the devastation of an atomic bomb, Godzilla is the embodiment of the post-nuclear Japanese experience. This discussion will explore one of the most expensive, popular movies made at the time (one that spawned no fewer than 28 sequels), covering what it means, why it’s still relevant, whom it influenced, and how it embodies Japanese attitudes about war, monsters and imperialism.

Thursday, March 13: The Tokyo Story and the Japanese Aesthetic of Simplicity
Hailed as one of the great films of Japan, the simplicity of The Tokyo Story is a powerful dramatization of the Japanese aesthetic qualities of shabui and wabi sabi: simplicity and imperfection. Yasujiro Ozu’s masterful film captures the joy and inevitable pain of generational struggle — but always “less is more.”

Thursday, March 27: Spirited Away: Alice in the Spiritual Wonderland of Japanese Anime
Winner of the Academy Award in 2003 for Best Animated Feature and the largest grossing film in Japanese history (surpassing even Titanic), Spirited Away is one of the most successful and fitting examples of Japanese anime. This discussion will include the features of Japanese animation, why it’s different from American animation, and how it reflects the shifting morals of modern Japanese society.

Sponsored by The Humanities CouncilSC, the films are appropriate for all ages and are free for the public to attend.

Popcorn, candy and soft drinks will be sold for a nominal fee as a fundraiser for the museum.

For more information, contact Shirah Smith, (864) 338-7400 or beltonmuseum@bellsouth.net.

Via: Belton Area Museum Association