At the turn of the century, I became interested in using online databases as a platform for reprinting archival materials for the study of film history and aesthetics. I was grateful to the American attempts at reprinting paper materials on microfilm and the Japanese tradition of facsimile reprints on paper. The latter was particularly central to the study of Japanese cinema. However, in both cases price—and in the case of microfilm, technology—made access problematic. They were radically expensive, so only the largest research libraries owned them and none of them shared the expensive materials by interlibrary loan. So in 2004, I started deploying image databases being developed at the University of Michigan to reprint materials online and making the access free to all.
I studied at the University of Southern California in the late 1980s when post-structuralism dominated film studies, and so I was trained to be suspicious of the neoformalists—most notably David Bordwell, who was treated with both frustration and grudging respect in the seminar rooms of USC. However, like Burch, Bordwell’s capacious love of cinema repeatedly led him to the riches of Japanese cinema. My initial read of Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema was a frustrating experience; however, I must admit I had only seen a handful of the films. Over the years, I worked through Ozu’s filmography—watching whatever I could get my hands on in those days before home video—and I went straight to Bordwell’s book after every viewing. I quickly came to appreciate Bordwell’s achievement. It is a magisterial overview of the director’s achievements and includes some of the finest and closest of close textual analyses. Only David Bordwell could unpack films as complex as Ozu’s.
I was shocked the book was out of print, so I approached Bordwell about a reprint. He explained that Princeton University Press had refused to reprint it because there were too many photographs to deal with (over 500, as a matter of fact). Bordwell was just then turning to the internet as a new venue for publication, and he quickly came on board. Not only was I of the mind that the more photographs the better, but Michigan had an interface that turned the small images on the page into thumbnails that could call up large, high quality images for close study. Bordwell committed his own research funds to re-scanning all his frame-grabs, which were photographed directly from celluloid prints. I committed my paper copy of the book to being dismantled and scanned for the facsimile pages. The resulting reprint is far superior to the Princeton version, which used poor quality paper that rendered the images so fuzzy as to look out-of-focus. And the color films were presented with properly colorful framegrabs.
As editor, with a new introduction by the author, color, and new scans of all images. Visit.