JAPANESE CINEMA, by Stuart Galbraith IV. Taschen, 2009, 192 pp., 354 photographs, $29.99 (hardcover)

This is a large (23.1 cm by 28.9 cm), fully illustrated account of Japanese film from its beginnings. There have now been a number of such histories, each perforce written from different perspectives and using various paradigms and methodologies. This latest entry, from the esteemed author of "The Emperor and the Wolf" — the most detailed study of director Akira Kurosawa and his iconic leading actor Toshiro Mifune — begins from the premise that there is now so much more to see.

Indeed there is. "Even outside Japan, more Japanese movies have been released in the last few years than in the previous 20 combined," Galbraith notes. Heretofore the viewer was largely confined to selected works of Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu. Now, by way of the Internet and DVD, the viewer can see representative slices of the work of many other directors, including Shohei Imamura, Mikio Naruse, Keisuke Kinoshita and Yoji Yamada, a director whose work in particular Galbraith believes to be "criminally neglected in the West." Working to remedy that condition with the American DVD label AnimaEigo, he will in November present the U.S. premieres of four Yamada films, all from the popular "Tora-san" series.

Galbraith has long been interested in the role of the DVD in the propagation of film. In addition to his books he also until recently had a column on new local DVD releases in The Daily Yomiuri. Victim of the ailing economy now afflicting all newspapers, it was a column as much appreciated as its absence is regrettable.