Takashi Fujitani: “Two Unforgivens: Clint Eastwood, Lee Sang-il, and Traveling Westerns”

June 1, 2017 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm America/Los Angeles Timezone
SSMS 2135
Social Sciences and Media Studies
Isla Vista, CA 93117
Sabine Frühstück

About the Talk

In this presentation, Prof. Fujitani reads Clint Eastwood’s critically acclaimed Unforgiven (1992) against Lee Sang-il’s “remake” (Yurusarezaru mono, 2013) of the original. While the few Anglophone critics who have reviewed Lee’s version have generally treated it as a competent but fairly unremarkable copy of the original, Fujitani argues that the film, set in Hokkaidō, is in many ways a far more radical and challenging exploration of key themes taken up by Eastwood. These include violence, law, the outlaw, sovereign power, the right to kill, and historical accountability. At the same time, Lee takes up several issues that Eastwood simply leaves as background to his story — in particular race, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. While the Western has been a staple genre in Eastwood’s long career leading up to Unforgiven, it is the first and so far only Western made by the much younger Lee. Lee’s first film, Chong (1998, 2001), is in part based upon his own life growing up as an ethnic Korean in Japan. His more well-known films include Hula Girl (2006), The Villain (Akunin, 2010, and Rage (Ikari, 2016).


About the Speaker

Takashi Fujitani is Professor of History at the University of Toronto where he is also the Dr. David Chu Professor in Asia-Pacific Studies. His major works include:  Splendid Monarchy (UC Press, 1996); Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans in WWII (UC Press, 2011) and Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) (co-edited, Duke U. Press, 2001). He is also editor of the series Asia Pacific Modern (UC Press). He is currently working on three major projects with the tentative titles:  Cold War Clint: Asia and the World of an American Icon; Whose ‘Good War’?: The Asia Pacific War(s); The Sovereign Remains: Essays on the Japanese Monarchy and Questions of Sovereignty.


Co-sponsored by the departments of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies, Asian American Studies, Film & Media Studies, and History as well as the Reinventin Japan Research Focus Group.