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.
In my initial foray into using online databases for reprinting I selected two books that were important milestones in the study of Japanese cinema. The first was Donald Richie’s Japanese Cinema: Film Style and National Character. This book, long out of print, is paradigmatic of the initial approach to Japanese cinema, just as academic film studies was taking shape. Writers like Richie restricted their view to the borders of the nation state and looked to cinema as an arena for the expression of a unique “national character.” It was a humanist approach that searched for the universal in the particular.
As editor, with a new introduction by the author. Visit.