KENJI MIZOGUCHI and the Art of Japanese Cinema by Tadao Sato, translated by Brij Tankha, edited by Aruna Vasudev and Latika Padgaonkar. Oxford: Berg Books, 2008, 196 pp., with 35 photographs, £17.99 (paper)

This is the English translation of Tadao Sato's defining study of the director, originally published as "Mizoguchi Kenji no Sekai" (1982). It is to be welcomed for a number of reasons.

One is that works in English on Mizoguchi (1898-1956) are less available than, say, similar volumes on Akira Kurosawa or Yasujiro Ozu. There is Mark Le Fanu's excellent "Mizoguchi and Japan" (2005), but otherwise there are mainly anthologized pieces by such scholars as David Boardwell, Dudley Andrew, and James Quandt. The fullest English account is that of Keiko McDonald (1984), but it was much shortened by a publisher more interested in format uniformity than in film studies. And there is Donald Kirihara's superb "Patterns of Time" (1992), but this work treats only the Mizoguchi films of the 1930s.

Another reason for welcoming this translation is that the English reader rarely hears directly from the Japanese scholar. Information on films and their directors is usually transmitted by non-Japanese scholars. Even Sato, author of the present volume and arguably the single most important film critic in Japan, has had only one other English translation: that by the late Gregory Barrett, "Currents in Japanese Cinema" (1982).