Judi Dench as the Marquis de Sade's mother-in-law and Michael Winterbottom's Genova

Literary critic John Carey
Journalist Joanna Pitman
Historian Amanda Vickery

Princesses conjure up gigantic skeleton spectres…warriors die in hails of arrows…Samurai kill tigers and wrestle crocodiles. The Japanese print artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi was a master of making graphic images of military exploits and legendary heroes. Today, he’s billed as the forefather of Manga.

The panel visit a major new exhibition of the work of an artist who battled censorship, promoting the Samurai ethos in the face of encroaching Western influence.

To view a gallery of images from the exhibition click here.

Kuniyoshi: from the Arthur R. Miller Collection continues at the Royal Academy of Arts in central London until 7 June.

Madame de Sade
In the 1960s, the popular Japanese playwright Yukio Mishima tried to revive the Samurai spirit celebrated by Kuniyoshi, to the point of committing ritual suicide in public.

Now, Mishima’s meditation on the aristocratic cruelty of the Marquis de Sade has been given a rare revival by director Michael Grandage. Madame de Sade stars Judi Dench as the Marquis’ mother-in-law. But would the panel recommend it as a good night out only for masochists?

Madame de Sade continues at the Donmar West End in central London until 23 May.

The Kindly Ones
Jonathan Littell’s near-thousand page novel about an SS officer’s journey through the atrocities of the Second World War has attracted prizes, acclaim, controversy and criticism. It has sold over a million copies in France, and has now been published here. So does it achieve its apparent aim: making sense of how ordinary people can become mass killers?

The Kindly Ones is published by Chatto and Windus.

Michael Winterbottom is Britain’s most prolific mainstream director. His work ranges from the larky (24 Hour Party People, A Cock-and-Bull Story) to the political (The Road to Guantanamo, A Mighty Heart).

But in his new film he has ventured onto much more low-key, intimate terrain. Genova stars Colin Firth as a newly widowed father who relocates his grieving family to Italy, only to find his two daughters slipping away from him.

Genova is on selected release from Friday 27 March, certificate 15.

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45 minutes

Last on

Sat 21 Mar 2009 19:15