East Asian Popular Culture

The Films of Kore-eda Hirokazu: An Elemental Cinema

by Linda C. Ehrlich (2019[2020])

- Kore-eda Hirokazu (1962-) -- Criticism and interpretation.
- Asian Cinema and TV.
- Asian Culture.
- Film History.
- Popular Culture.
- Motion pictures -- Asia.
- Ethnology -- Asia.
- Motion pictures --History.

The Films of KORE-EDA Hirokazu: An Elemental Cinema draws readers into the first 13 feature films and documentaries of award-winning Japanese film director KORE-EDA Hirokazu. With his recent top prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Shoplifters, Kore-eda is arguably Japan's greatest living director with an international viewership. He approaches difficult subjects (child abandonment, suicide, marginality) with a realistic and compassionate eye.

An Elemental Cinema presents Kore-eda's oeuvre as a connected whole with overarching thematic concerns, despite frequent generic experimentation. It also offers an example of how the poetics of cinema can be practiced in writing, as well as on the screen, and helps readers understand the films of this contemporary director as works of art that relate to their own lives.

Introductory Thoughts   1-17
Earth/The Documentary Impulse: Mō hitotsu no kyōiku—Ina shōgakkō harugumi no kiroku/ Lessons from a Calf—Record of the Spring Class at Ina Elementary School, 1991   19-27
Water: Maborosi no hikari/Maborosi, 1995   29-57
Water: Aruite mo aruite mo/Still Walking, 2008   59-66
Water: Umi yori mo mada fukaku/After the Storm, 2016   67-75
Liminality: Wandafuru raifu/After Life, 1998   77-90
Liminality: Daremo shiranai/Nobody Knows, 2004   91-114
Fire: Distance, 2001   115-127
Fire: Sandome no satsujin/The Third Murder, 2017   129-143
Air: Kūki ningyō/Air Doll, 2009   145-158
Air: Kiseki/I Wish, 2011   159-164
Air: Soshite chichi ni naru/Like Father Like Son, 2013   165-172
Air: Umimachi diari/Our Little Sister, 2015   173-178
Metal: Hana yori mo nao/Hana, 2006   179-192
An Elemental Cinema Re-examined: Manbiki kazoku/Shoplifters, 2018   193-216
Endings   217-236
Final Thoughts   237-263
Selected Filmography   265-269.


Linda C. Ehrlich is an independent scholar who has published extensively about world cinema and about traditional theatre. Her books include: Cinematic Reveries (2013), The Cinema of Víctor Erice: An Open Window (2007), and the co-edited Cinematic Landscapes: Observations on the Visual Arts and Cinemas of China and Japan (reprint 2008). Her commentaries appear on the Criterion DVD of The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena, dir. Víctor Erice) and the Milestone Film and Video 25th-anniversary DVD/blu-ray of Maborosi (dir. Kore-eda Hirokau). In addition, she is an award-winning poet.Dr. Ehrlich has taught at Duke University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Tennessee/Knoxville, and on two Semester-at-Sea voyages. She has lived in Japan for more than five years, and has interviewed the director twice.



“In Linda Ehrlich, Kore-eda Hirokazu has found his most suitable and perfect commentator.  Ehrlich possesses an eloquence and sensitivity that matches Kore-eda’s own deep and abiding humanism.”
- David M. Desser, Professor Emeritus of Cinema Studies, University of Illinois, USA

"It’s difficult to imagine a more insightful and illuminating way of approaching Kore-eda’s films than through the series of lyrical essays that Linda Ehrlich wrote. Like a tapestry of interconnected threads, she beautifully draws out the poetry and the challenges of quotidian life as depicted in his films. Given the carefully selected, crucial still images from the films, the experience on the page is transferred back to the screen, giving new meaning to, and helping us reimagine anew, a body of work that is rich in the elements and associations that it articulates. Not since Gombrich’s The Story of Art have I seen the integration of image, experience, and content implemented so elegantly and eloquently.”
- Otávio Bueno, Professor and Chair, Cooper Senior Scholar in Arts and Sciences, University of Miami, USA


Ehrlich, Linda C[hannah] [1952-]
The Films of Kore-eda Hirokazu: An Elemental Cinema.
Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing/Palgrave Macmillan, 2019 [2020], xxii, 298 p.
(East Asian Popular Culture.).
ISBN 9783030330507 (hb., EUR 74,89)
ISBN 9783030330514 (eb., EUR 58,84)
[Bibl. refs.]