Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Black Ships (1970)

It’s somewhat frustrating to try to review a title and be able to find almost no information on it.  This is especially true of shorter films.  Charles and Ray Eames made a short film about Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan called, simply The Black Ships.  It’s done with artwork at the time and explanatory narration.

The Smithsonian Institution is listed on IMDb as a production company, which I would infer to mean that they may have used the short film as part of an exhibit..  However, I can’t find anything to back that up.  This is exactly the kind of short film a museum might play on loop.  It’s short and informative, but not too deep.  It’s apparently made for the shorter attention span of someone that‘s passing through

Finding information is made more difficult by the fact that I get information on Black Ships, directly.  Black Ship is the term given to a Western vessel by the Japanese from the 16th to the 19th centuries.  According to the film, the technology and appearance of the ships was new to the Japanese, who tried to copy as much of it as they could.

The short is available on DVD.  I’m not sure most people would get the set just for this, though.  I would think interest in this subject is going to be fairly narrow.   Even a school wanting to use it for a class might find it lacking.  You could probably find something more informative elsewhere.  If anything, it might be assigned as additional viewing outside of class if the school library had it or it were made available online.

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