DA – The Hidden Fortress

Hey hey, I made a 10 minute podcast describing my experience with Akira Kurosawa’s film ‘The Hidden Fortress’. I personally loved this film and had a great time experiencing it. This experience has certainly broadened my views on films from other cultures, making me want to seek out films from other countries. Enjoy…

 

I came into this film with an open mind. Embracing all aspects of Japanese culture as much as I could. I had issues regarding subtitles and as you might hear in the podcast, trouble with the pronunciation of certain names. I’ve never watched a Japanese film, apart from some anime. I stay inside my cultural bubble and don’t usually search for anything to get me out of my comfort zone. After some research, I began to see the connection between Kurosawa’s films and some of the most well known western films today, such as Star Wars, The Magnificent Seven and a Fistful of Dollars.

Kurosawa directed, edited and wrote the screenplay for The Hidden Fortress (1958), showing his brilliance in filmmaking. Kurosawa won awards for the film, and was the 4th highest grossing film in that year in Japan. The Hidden Fortress was Kurosawa’s most successful film until the release of Yojimbo, a film directed by Kurosawa in 1961. He has been praised by various other directors, like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

This film wasn’t an enormous jump into the deep end, however it was a start. Being born in Australia in the very late 20th century, the main shock was the lack off colour. Black and white films aren’t completely foreign to me, however I don’t regularly seek them out. The next struggle was the subtitles. At times they distracted me from the film, but I got used to it as I kept watching. The Hidden Fortress showed off gorgeous landscapes of Japan, an incredible recreation of outfits and armour, stunning architecture and bits of Japanese culture. There were some notable differences that I spotted throughout the film which included dialogue, camera angles, direction and cultural. A lack of quick cuts compared to western films, drawing out the shots in an attempt to show of the beautiful landscapes and sets of Japan. There are various elements regarding morality and greed in this film. Kurosawa uses Matashichi and Tahei’s character arcs in order to discuss the greed surrounding humanity. These character arcs display Kurosawa’s belief that people have the potential to be morally good, with a slight push in the right direction. He uses strong female characters, the Princess was strong minded, aggressive and wise. General Rokurota was a strong, honourable and supportive as a character. However, Kurosawa decided to ensure that he didn’t portray the Yamana soldiers as the polar opposite of Rokurota. The soldiers were terrified at points in battles. General Hyoe Tadokoro, a general for the Yamana army, changes sides towards the end of the journey. Through these character decisions and arcs, Kurosawa is discussing the positions within war, through soldiers and higher ranks. As this film is 13 years after Hiroshima, Kurosawa shows his perspective on war.

The Hidden Fortress was a somewhat eye-opening experience for me. It introduced me into the world of Japanese film making and also showed the brilliance in films from decades before I was born. I’m looking forwards to experiencing the rest of Kurosawa’s films in the future.

References:

 

Every Frame a Painting (2015) Akira Kurosawa – Composing Movement [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at:

 

The Hidden Fortress, Wikipedia  [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hidden_Fortress

White, A (2001) The Hidden Fortress [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/117-the-hidden-fortress

Garcia, C G (2015) A Brief but Essential Introduction to Japanese Filmmaking: A Look at the Genres, Directors and Most Outstanding Works in Japanese Filmmaking [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: http://www.faena.com/aleph/articles/a-brief-but-essential-introduction-to-japanese-cinema/

D’Angelo, M (2014) AV Film: An influence on Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress is Kurosawa’s most fun film [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: https://film.avclub.com/an-influence-on-star-wars-the-hidden-fortress-is-kuros-1798179895

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

IMDB List:

The Hidden Fortress: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051808/?ref_=tt_ch

Ikiru: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044741/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Seven Samurai: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047478/?ref_=nv_sr_1

 

 

 

 

 

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BCM302 Variety Games – Blog Review

Variety Gaming – https://openworldgaming372932629.wordpress.com/

Stephen had various different ideas that he wanted to pursue for this assignment. Originally he was to create videos on a Youtube channel, shared with a friend who had deep knowledge of stock trading. Due to conflicting schedules, he changed his digital artefact to a series of interviews that followed people and their choices for a future career. This was a brilliant idea because it was relevant to the people who would judge it as the semester went on, and would easily have found a target market within university students. Due to a lack of time and people who had the time to be interviewed for extended periods of time, he then changed to his final idea.

“Open World Gaming” was Stephen’s next step. Due to his passion for gaming and his overall knowledge of streaming and content creation, he started a blog which discussed a wide variety of games whilst reviewing them and providing gameplay to back up his opinions. After a couple of weeks being known as “Open World Gaming”, Stephen changed the name of the blog as he believed “the blog isn’t only about open world games, I didn’t want to limit myself to a certain genre of games”. He then changed the name to “Variety Gaming” to make sure it was understood that he would cover different genres.

In the series of blog posts that he has posted so far, a wide variety of games have been discussed. Whilst attempting to cover very recent games in order to stay on top of other reviewers, whom might of not had enough time to release a review, Stephen also discusses a selection of games from years prior to 2018. Which might make the review less relevant and eye-catching, but also opens up the amount of reviews he can post. Which by creating a big library of reviews, has the potential to make people believe in his reviewing process. He also expands the amount of games he can review by introducing “Drinking Games”. These drinking games are related to digital games, just adding a drinking system to spice things up. For instance, the drinking system with “Golf with Friends” is simple,  “The way to designate drinks is the loser(s) have to drink the difference between their score and the winners at the end of each hole.” An easy and memorable game mode, especially for people who are intoxicated.

The way Stephen presents his reviews is in a blog format, which gives it plenty of room to go into depth about the game. Also being able to provide various different links within his work, which would be easier to present, compared to game reviewers on sites like ‘Youtube’. By providing the title, developer, amount of hours played, genre, release date and price at the beginning of the blog posts, he outlines several important aspects to the game efficiently and effectively. Followed by footage of the games, whether it be trailers or gameplay of himself experiencing it and detailed descriptions of the game mechanics and story elements. He goes into incredible depth, stripping elements of the gameplay down to make it easier for first time players to understand, e.g discussing character traits and their special abilities.  

Originally, these blog posts started as just simple reviews. Mainly consisting of images and comments about the games he was reviewing. After feedback was received, Stephen added various other elements to the reviews, including gameplay from his streams or other Youtubers, he also introduced trailers at the beginning of each blog and increasing the depth of the detail within the reviews, and this is evident with all the attention placed on levelling up characters and special abilities.

Obviously there are thousands of game reviewers, a lot have various different styles and ways of coming to their conclusions. The majority that I have experienced don’t go into too much detail regarding levelling systems and gameplay, they more or less give a general idea of the game and give it a score out of 10. Whilst Stephen does give a score out of 10, he provides a lot of detail into his reviews, sometimes disregarding the potential of spoilers, not game ruining spoilers of course. Which I personally believe is a good idea, as it has the potential to remove confusion when starting a new game. There are some things that Stephen could do to improve his rating system however. Maybe by introducing various elements to the scoring system might get people to understand why it’s a 9 out of 10 or 7 out of 10. By adding more layers to the scoring system, it might change people’s ideas on whether to purchase a game. For example, he could say Graphics 9/10, Story 7/10. This would also differentiate his scoring from others. It is an effective way of reviewing, however I personally like to know what goes into a point within a scoring system. He does explain these things throughout the review, I think it might be a good addition to discuss them at the end and to explain why you came to that conclusion of a 9/10

Overall, Stephen has clearly progressed over this semester, improving his reviews as he goes along. They provide great insight into the game and how it’s played, discussing the story elements and gameplay elements. The information he puts into the blogs is always efficient and effective, the videos and images are great buffer for when you read the blogs, providing a break from reading to see gameplay or to build a rapport with Stephen through his stream highlights. He has a wide variety of genres and types of games that provide an experience for any audience. He also clearly has an understanding of the games he plays, this is shown through the amount of hours he puts into the games themselves and to the analysis in the blogs.

Rating: 9/10

Would Read Again.

Akira.

This weeks film in BCM320 was Akira.

6587_akira_hd_wallpapers.jpg

Akira is confronting, disturbing, and rather deep. I found various scenes unpleasant to watch, other scenes unbelievably intense and captivating. This was my first ever viewing of Akira, and I would like to watch it again in the future. In its own weird and twisted way it conveys the message, similar to (1954) Gorjia, the potential dangers involving man and it’s creations. Also similar to an anime Frankenstein, however on a larger scale. The film discusses the dangers of scientific advancement, with Tetsuo and Akira’s powers displaying similarities to an atomic bomb. With Tetsuo being unable to control his powers in the end and all the foreshadowing from the weird 60 year old kids, this from what I could gather, attempts to mirror the damage from WW2 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I personally think it conveys that very well. It also lightly touches on various issues in today’s society, like the abuse of women, this is shown in how Tetsuo treats Kaori (I believe must be his girlfriend). Tetsuo is rather hot and cold when it comes to Kaori, treating her like garbage one second and caring deeply for her the next. Also, as I mentioned before, the dangers of scientific advancement and our inability to control it. This is shown throughout the whole movie, but a good example is when Tetsuo makes his robotic arm. The arm then appears to have a mind of its own, however it’s just Tetsuo’s lack of control over his incredible powers.

Watching various scenes reminded me of other shows and movies i’d grown up with. Shows like Dragon Ball Z have clearly taken inspiration from Akira. The way the characters display their powers and have them evolve is obviously inspired by Akira. The explosions of power and atomic bomb like destruction is similar to shows like Dragon Ball Z, also making me take notice to parts within shows like Dragon Ball Z. For example, Goku likes to take fights to unpopulated areas, upon reflection this shows attitudes towards the destruction of atomic bombs used in war. Understanding these culture of the time period in which these movies and shows are made created so many layers of depth. Making them even more creative and impressive, making the viewing even more exciting and interesting.

220px-AKIRA_(1988_poster)

 

I highly recommend watching this film. It’s inspired classics like ‘The Matrix’ and even music videos, like Kanye West’s song ‘Stronger’.

Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment if you’d like to ask me any questions or for my opinions.

Gojira.

The powerhouse that is Godzilla has always been an exciting character to watch for me. Destroying buildings and terrorising cities, every version of Godzilla satisfies my destructive urges. Fortunately, the original 1954 ‘Gojira’, directed by Ishiro Honda was the first film played in my Digital Asia subject at UOW. For this screening we had to live tweet our responses as we watched. Unfortunately, I was away for this screening as I had the flu. But I decided to watch it in my spare time anyway as I’ve always enjoyed watching Godzilla films, it can be my prep for the new Godzilla films coming out later this year, battling King Ghidorah and breaking stuff and whatnot.

280px-Godzilla_'54_design.jpg

My first impression of Gojira was that it was a fun, destructive adventure to watch and enjoy without thinking. However, after research and discussing with my peers, I realised that i’d barely scratched the surface. Making me question all other films with similar ideas and themes.

Gojira is a giant, scaly depiction of post WW2 fears of nuclear weapons, symbolising a nuclear holocaust of sorts. The theme also discusses the repercussion of these nuclear weapons and the revenge it was to take on mankind. The power of Gojira was intended to be similar to the power of an atomic bomb, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can only imagine what it would have been like to experience this masterpiece of cinema with memories of the actual destruction the atomic bomb had created for Japan. Reminding them of the horror that had only happened a couple years earlier.

Understanding this perspective really changed the way I viewed the film. It also made me appreciate the brilliant use of symbolism which went straight over my head and misunderstood for years. The symbolism still holds up today with the new films being brought out, probably not with the same impact and of course some depictions would miss the original point. Growing up in Sydney, I obviously had no experiences involving war and the destruction it causes. My sport and beach loving, binge drinking, “Australian” culture is completely different compared to 1954 Japan where they were recovering from devastating loss and destruction. But after some research of the cinema after WW2, it gives me the ability to be empathetic.

What a brilliant film. Understanding the culture from when it was released only makes it better.

Thanks for reading! if there’s anything you’d like to ask feel free to leave a comment!

 

BCM115 Film

BCM115

Harrison Thomas: 5058703

Video: https://youtu.be/B6JZRTLI0Cg

 Contextual essay

 When I was making my original film piece, I was told I needed to throw a spanner in the works. I took that advice when I was making my audio piece, and after it had been filmed and had been edited briefly, I noticed the creepy vibes that the editing had caused. I really liked this aspect, taking inspiration from horror film directors like Kiyoshi Kurosawa I attempted to add horror elements. I also took inspiration slightly from Alfred Hitchcock. His incredible use of suspense in all his films make every single viewing compelling. Instead of using the classic “bomb underneath the table” suspense, I used eery sounds and music in order to make viewers uneasy and to create suspense. The over-the-shoulder shot was intentionally disturbing and was used to convey a story within the film. As for the “Where I’m From” aspect, this was all filmed in my childhood home, using old statues, trampolines, pathways and late context shots of my back yard. For the sound, I used skateboards, guitar cases, guitars, doors, dogs barking and a record player and added various effects such as reverb, high pass and low pass filters, delays and fasers in order to create an eery and creepy effect. I also used fade ins and outs in order to add the suspense and eery elements involved. I used medium shots and close up’s on the statues in order to show childhood imagery. I used context shots in order to show how things have changed since I was a child, blurred scenes in order to make the viewers question what they’re watching. The over the shoulder shot also showed construction work being done on the house next door, this was intentionally used in order to show a change in time and progression. This aspect of progression and time change was also shown in the change of placement of the trampoline, discussing how I’ve aged and how I should attempt to reconnect with my childhood. The audio uses musical instruments, like guitars. Originally I was told to remove some of the instrumental parts to keep interest. I decided to keep them in because I thought it would be more interesting to change the way the sound is interpreted. It was creepy originally, but mixed with the film it creates an even more uneasy feel for the audience. As guitars and music are a large part of my life, I decided to keep them in the video as another way of showing my childhood and also to display the ways in which I haven’t changed. I’ve always been interested in music and this was an intentional juxtaposition against the video that shows how much I’ve changed. The movement in the film wasn’t intentional, however I feel adds a connection to the bouncing of the trampoline. I took inspiration from Yasurjiro Ozu for some of my framing, especially the shot of my back yard.

Music and Politics: Australian Censorship

Throughout the last two blogs, I’ve discussed various examples of political censorship within music in the past century, taking into account the various political environments from differing countries. In this blog, I intend to discuss examples involving Australian media.

In the late 80’s and 90’s, rap and hip-hop music was a great way for musicians to discuss the issue of Black Rights in America. Various different hip-hop groups have thrown their hats into the ring, involving discrimination, drug abuse, police brutality and other political issues. Musicians like Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G throughout the 90’s discussed political issues that were relevant to life in cities like Compton and Brooklyn. N.W.A, a gangsta rap group with members such as ‘Ice Cube’, ‘Eazy-E’ and ‘Dr Dre’, had several successful albums discussing poverty and the struggles of living as an African American in the late 20th century. Releasing highly regarded albums called “Niggaz4life” and “Straight Out of Compton” which were praised for incredible instrumentals, lyrics and themes. “Niggaz4life” was removed from different retail chains  The album “Straight out of Compton’ provoked controversy amongst the various different cultures in America in the late 80’s. Some songs off the album weren’t well received by certain people. One song in particular that discussed issues regarding police brutality and racial profiling called  “Fuck tha Police”. This song had controversy surrounding it due to the portrayal of the Police force in America and their treatment of African American communities. “Fuck tha Police” provoked the FBI to write a letter to “Ruthless Records”, the N.W.A’s record label. The letter explained their disapproval of the lyrics used and the misrepresentation of the police force. Another controversy with the song happened on Australian radio.

Triple J, an Australian radio station that is praised for the lack of constraints it gives the music played e.g freedom of speech and lack of censorship, was removed from the stations playlists due to the direction from Malcom Long, the head of ABC Radio. It was removed despite being already played for several months. The song even resulted in Nick Franklin’s suspension, a news editor at Triple J. He was suspended for using 22 seconds of “Fuck tha Police” “ironically during a mini-documentary on unsavoury language, intended to establish how offensive the song was”. This was met with criticism from some of the employees at Triple J. As an act of protest the radio hosts on Triple J repeated a song off the same album called “Express Yourself” throughout the day. They broke the record for the most consecutive plays of a single song on radio, repeating it a total of 82 times, from 9am to 4:30pm. This was a successful act of protest, it resulted in the suspension being revoked and no mark was left on Franklin’s record.

 

What have my examples showed?

There is a strong link between censorship and those in power. From that, censorship seems to be a tool used against smaller voices speaking about the issues within their society. I’ve noticed that there is a slight difference between Australian and American/Russian censorship. The lack of power to censor. For Australia, it was rather easy to protest the injustice caused by the head of the ABC. By simply playing a song on loop for a day, it resulted in the censorship being removed. With America and Russia, it has been different. The lyrics in “FDT” were changed, granted there were still lyrics that were against Trump in the song and Trump’s propaganda wasn’t changed at all. Putin is the more extreme version of censorship. ‘Pussy Riot’ being held in prison removed the possibility of another song against Putin, and was rather successful and the song “One like Putin” topped the Russian music charts in 2002. Censorship is effective, depending on the power of the person being censored. The presenters on Triple J had a voice that was heard on a regular basis, making it easier for their voices and opinions to be heard. Of course musicians do as well, but it’s a lot easier to silence the musician before the song is released, than to have it removed after its message has been already heard. You could just throw them in prison I guess Putin, that works too.

Previous Blogs:

  1. Music and Politics – Propaganda: https://harrisonjthomas.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/music-and-politics-propaganda/

2.  Music and Politics – Censorship: https://harrisonjthomas.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/music-and-politics-censorship/

References:

Chamberlin, P (September 2, 2015) Express Yourself: The day triple j played the same N.W.A. song 82 times in a row [Accessed April 30] Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/express-yourself-the-day-triple-j-played-the-same-nwa-song-82-times-in-a-row-20150902-gjdk0d.html

Saunders, Ralph (August 16, 2007) Teaching Rap: The Politics of Race in the Classroom [Accessed April 29] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00221349908978880?needAccess=true

Warren, J (November 13, 2017) Studies: Music Ethics Politics [Accessed April 30] Available at: http://www.newsound.org.rs/pdf/en/ns50/04.J.R.Warren.pdf

Currie, J (2011) The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music [Accessed April 30] Available at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/31605864/THE_ROUTLEDGE_COMPANION_TO_PHILOSOPHY_AND_MUSIC.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1525345439&Signature=VEiPFalQc4LVP0BOQTSk5UXqlyU%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DTHE_ROUTLEDGE_COMPANION_TO_PHILOSOPHY_AN.pdf#page=573

Game Rules

2am Lockout Phase-  Game Loop

Everyone closes their eyes

Killer wakes up – chooses from pile of grey in the middle to kill or harm 2 players

Killer blacks out (Closes their eyes)

Accomplice wakes up – chooses from pile of grey cards to harm 1 player, but cannot kill anyone

Accomplice blacks out

Bartender wakes up – chooses from pile of orange cards to heal 1 player, they can revive someone.

Bartender goes to replace the Future VB keg (closes their eyes)

Creep wakes up – can view one persons card but cannot reveal what he saw cause everyone would know he’s gross. Should respond to questions like a regular, however can vote according to what he/she knows

Creep blacks out

Tipsy patron wakes up – can see if he/she has been hurt and can move it to the player next to their left.

Everybody wakes up and the game begins.

Detective Rules and mini-objectives-

The detective asks the questions

The detective can only ask 2 questions per round.

Detective must find the identity of a minimum of 3 people to be considered the only winner

Killer Rules and Mini-objectives – 

Killers can only kill 1 person per night phase, or take away half of two peoples health

The Killer must survive without being caught to win

Bartender Rules and Mini-objectives –

Bartender can only give one person 1 hp per night phase

They can also choose to be responsible and not serve drinks past lockout

Accomplice Rules and Mini-objectives –

Accomplice can only hurt 1 person per night phase.

The Accomplice wins if the killer wins

If possible, try to convince everyone that they are the killer

Regular Rules and Mini-objectives –

Have a good night

Can help either side if they can figure out everyones characters

Tipsy Patron’s Rules and Mini-objectives – 

can see if he/she has been hurt and can move it to the player next to their left.

Survive.

Game Rules –

Amount of People 6 – 12

Everyone is assigned a number from 1 – 12

1 Grey card is 1 Hit point

Lives are 2 hit points

Dice are rolled in order to decide who the detective will ask a question

You cannot ask anyone’s identities.

At the end of every day phase, the health of each players will be revealed. The only people who will know who’s hurt originally are the killer/bartender/accomplice and the person that is hurt.

1 Detective, 1 Accomplice, 1 Killer, 1 Bartender, 2 Regulars. Minimum cards. If there are more players, 1 regular and 2 tipsy patrons will be added. Only 1 killer and 1 detective.