“Most directors have one film for which they are known or possibly two,” said Francis Ford Coppola. “Akira Kurosawa has eight or nine.” Through masterpieces such as Kagemusha, Seven Samurai, and High and Low, Akira Kurosawa (1910–98) influenced directors from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to Martin Scorsese, and his groundbreaking innovations in cinematography and editing, combined with his storytelling, made him a cinematic icon. In this succinct biography, Peter Wild evaluates Kurosawa’s films while offering a view of the man behind the camera, from his family life to his global audience.
After discussing Kurosawa’s childhood in Japan, Wild explores his years as an assistant director at a new film studio and his early films during and after World War II before he won international acclaim with Rashomon. While surveying Kurosawa’s impressive career, Wild also examines the myriad criticisms the director faced both within his own country and abroad—he was too influenced by Western cinema; not authentically Japanese; and he was too sentimental, naïve, arrogant, or out of touch. By placing Kurosawa and his films in the context of his times, Wild helps us to understand the director and the reproaches against him. Cogent and concise, Akira Kurosawa will be essential reading for anyone interested in the work of this masterful filmmaker.
Home to former presidents and to movie stars, Palm Springs and its surrounding deserts are among the fastest growing and wealthiest areas of the U.S. But beneath the glitter lies a story of turmoil and a pattern of excess that prefigures many of the issues that face the nation.
The Grumbling Gods surveys the history and allure of Palm Springs, beginning with the Cahuilla Indians, the first historical residents of the region. It includes accounts from the early explorers, a report of mysterious shipwrecks amidst the sand dunes, and selections from the grimly rollicking writings of Raymond Chandler. It penetrates the tinsel of casinos and the placidity of gated golf communities to reveal the painful beauty of deserts and mountains under assault.
Francisco Patencio, the last of the traditional Cahuilla Indians, warned his white neighbors to be careful, that the grim gods inhabiting the canyons around Palm Springs were angry. It is their grumbling, at once chilling and prophetic, and yet sometimes humorous, that we hear from the pages of this book.
Into The Wilderness Dream
Donald A Barclay University of Utah Press, 1994 Library of Congress F592.I68 1994 | Dewey Decimal 978.01
Not just an exploration of our early Western European roots, these rich chronicles read as literature, first-person narratives of the greatest exploration adventures in historic times.
From the Platonic vision of Atlantis to Arthur’s Avalon, pre-Columbus Europeans imagined fabulous lands to the west—and after 1492, initial reports of a new world filled with golden El Dorados, warrior queens, and Fountains of Youth merely provided confirmation.
Although these dreams were soon tempered by reality, explorers continued to set off with expectation that shaped what they say, how they saw, and how they reacted. This complex of attitudes continues to affect the way we view our world, and these accounts provide an excellent source for insight into the metaphorical systems that have permeated European and American writing about the West since the Sixteenth century.
Into the Wilderness Dreams draws from the best of three dozen accounts by the Spanish, French, English, and American explorers who came before Lewis and Clark, and explores the roots of present Western Euro-American culture.
The New Desert Reader
Wild, Peter University of Utah Press, 2006 Library of Congress F786.N48 2006 | Dewey Decimal 917.8
The New Desert Reader brings together a historical cross section of writing about the American Southwest in selections that demonstrate how thinking about American deserts has changed from the earliest times to the present day. Beginning with the centuries-old legends of the Tohono O’Odham Indians, it moves through the foresighted observations of John Wesley Powell, one-armed explorer of the Grand Canyon; continues with the delicate appreciations of Mary Austin and Joseph Wood Krutch; includes examples of the keen activist writings of Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey; and finishes with such contemporary desert writers as Tony Hillerman and others.
A slow change in outlook dominates the book, as attitudes shift from viewing the desert as a place to be despised or exploited to an appreciation of it as a special place, an arena of highly complex natural communities, and a wild refuge for the human body and soul. Comprehensive and brightly informative, The New Desert Reader will be invaluable to anyone interested in the history, literature, and beauty of North America’s treasured desert places.
James H. Maguire University of Utah Press, 1997 Library of Congress F596.R77 1997 | Dewey Decimal 978.02
The early plans for Mount Rushmore called for blasting heroic likenesses of mountain men--Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and John Colter-—into the solid mountain granite of South Dakota. Readers of this colorful volume will see the heroics and the brutally rugged individualism that made these fur trappers candidates for legend and infamy.
The accounts of the mountain men are spun from the experiences of a nation moving westward: a trapper returns from the dead; hunters feast on buffalo intestines served on a dirty blanket; a missionary woman is astounded by the violence and vulgarity of the trappers’ rendezvous. These are just a few of the narratives, tall tales, and just plain lies that make up A Rendezvous Reader.
The writers represented in this book include a dyed-in-the wool trappers, adventuring European nobles, upward-gazing eastern missionaries, and just plain hacks who never unsheathed a Green River knife or traveled farther west that the Ohio River. What these writers have in common is that all of them, whether they dealt mostly in fact of entirely in fantasy, helped to create a uniquely American icon: the mountain man.
Though A Rendezvous Reader will certainly be of interest to the historian and the historically curious, the true purpose of this anthology is to bring together in one volume the liveliest most readable accounts by and about the mountain men. Whether you sample or devour this anthology of mountain horrors and delights, it is a book guaranteed to entertain as well as inform.
The author of The Desert, the book that made the American landscape accessible to the mainstream mind, was much less like his fellow environmental prophets John Muir and Henry David Thoreau than he would have had us believe. Van Dyke claimed to have wandered "alone on horseback for thousands of miles through the American Southwest and northern Mexico," as readers of The Desert—now in the millions since the book was published in 1901—were told. He did not. In The Secret Life of John C. Van Dyke, Teague and Wild unmask the desert saint with Van Dyke’s own recently discovered letters. These letters depict a privileged, patrician, and pampered member of the upper-class. His incriminating correspondence reveals that he saw most of the desert from plush railroad cars and grand hotel rooms. In the introduction, the editors clear up many misconceptions scholars currently hold about Van Dyke’s ecological principles, about his outdoorsmanship, and about his trip through the desert itself. As the centennial of the publication of The Desert approaches, this lively collection of letters helps set the record straight. The John C. Van Dyke unveiled in The Secret Life is a more varied character than we had supposed—still worthy of much admiration for his remarkable accomplishments, but still mysterious, and not the man we thought him to be.