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A new edition of Seven Samurai (BFI Film Classics), Joan Mellen’s Analysis of director Akira Kurosawa’s Classic Film is included in the British Film Institute’s “Screen Studies.”

Wrexham In this book Mellen contextualizes Seven Samurai, marking its place in Japanese cinema, and in director, Akira Kurosawa’s career. Mellen explores the film’s roots in mediaeval history and the film’s visual language.

Cover artwork: Yuko Shimizu
British Film Institute
Pub date: April 28 2022
Paperback 9781839024771: $15.95

British Film Institutes Screen Studies is a dynamic digital platform designed to support moving-image studies. It offers a broad range of content including books, screenplays, overview articles and learning resources from Bloomsbury, Faber & Faber, the British Film Institute, Focal Press and Auteur (LUP). It is an essential resource for academics and students engaged in research and learning in film history, theory, and practice.

Joan Mellen’s study of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) treats it both as a portrayal of the cultural upheaval brought on by the collapse of Japanese militarism in the 16th century, but also as a reflection of the sweeping cultural changes occurring in the aftermath of the American Occupation that followed Japan’s defeat in the Second World War.

Seven Samurai may be the greatest action film, a technical masterpiece unmatched in its depiction of movement and violence, but running beneath the sound and fury is a lament for a lost nobility, ‘a dirge for the spirit of Japan,’ writes Joan Mellen, ‘which will never again be so strong.’

Mellen contextualizes Seven Samurai, marking its place in Japanese cinema and in Kurosawa’s film-making career. She explores the film’s roots in medieval history and, above all, the astonishing visual language in which Kurosawa created his elegiac epic.

 Seven Samurai is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, and was voted 17th in the most recent Sight & Sound critics’ poll of all-time best films
 New edition of a study of this classic film with a new afterword by the author Joan Mellen
 Published to tie in with the 30th anniversary of the BFI Film Classics series, with stunning new cover artwork

Toshirô Mifune in Seven Samurai (1954)

One of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This three-hour ride from Akira Kurosawa—featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura—seamlessly weaves philosophy and entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action, into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.

In the film Seven Samurai (1954) a whole society is on the verge of irrevocable change. Many people consider this film a major achievement in Japanese cinema, an epic that evokes the cultural upheaval brought on by the collapse of Japanese militarism in the 16th century, echoing the sweeping changes occurring in the aftermath of the American occupation. The plot is deceptively simple. A village of farmers is beset by a horde of bandits, and in desperation the village hire itinerant samurai to protect their crops and their village. In the end the samurai see off the bandits. Together the samurai reflect the ideals and values of a noble class near the point of extinction. The film may be a technical masterpiece, and despite its movement and violence it appears to be a lament for a lost nobility.

The BFI Film Classics series introduces, interprets and celebrates landmarks of world cinema. Each volume offers an argument for the film’s ‘classic’ status, together with discussion of its production and reception history, its place within a genre or national cinema, an account of its technical and aesthetic importance, and in many cases, the author’s personal response to the film.

Aku Purchase “Seven Samurai” (first edition) by Joan Mellen:



Screen Studies website

Kirkus Reviews Book Review of Joan Mellen’s “Blood in the Water”


Historical research leads to some unsettling assertions about a violent incident shrouded in secrecy for over 50 years.

Original review at Kirkus Review

The attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War, left 34 dead and 174 wounded, along with myriad unresolved questions even after Israel admitted responsibility, claiming it had acted in error. This book represents a massive undertaking, whereby Mellen (English Emerita/Temple Univ.; Faustian Bargains, 2016, etc.) systematically and persuasively dismantles the narratives espoused for decades by reviewing official documents, evaluating publications, and conducting personal interviews. Disturbingly, the author’s solid research indicates that the United States and Israel collaborated in planning, executing, and covering up this operation in order to implicate Egypt, bomb Cairo, and precipitate Gamal Abdel Nasser’s downfall. The author astutely points out that it wouldn’t be the first time the American government resorted to such tactics, citing the Maine in 1898 and the Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. She also contextualizes the Liberty incident amid “the hothouse of 1967,” signaling the Cold War’s paranoia and brinkmanship together with the Vietnam War escalation and oil supply concerns. To Mellen’s credit, her clear writing style and organizational abilities allow even readers unfamiliar with the events of the time to become engrossed in technical details, political intrigue, the military chain of command, and personal stories. Against all odds, through many sailors’ concerted effort, the Liberty managed to stay afloat despite a torpedo hit and send an SOS signal. The author darkly claims: “The survival of the ship was unanticipated by those in highest authority.”

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Alan Dale Interviews Joan Mellen on the Subject of “Blood In The Water”

Joan Mellen was interviewed by JFK Conversation’s Alan Dale on her recent book, “Blood in the Water”.

NOTE: 5:02 “The American ships had been called back…” CORRECTION: “The American planes had been called back…”

About Alan Dale

Alan Dale is the Director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center, and the host of JFK Conversations,

Amazon Review, 12/11/2018: The Definitive Work to End USA’s Involvement in the Liberty Cover-up

5.0 out of 5 stars

By Eileen Fleming

Despite this American’s eleven years of research regarding the USS Liberty cover-up, I had not been aware of the CIA connection beginning with John Hadden who Mellen ‘discovered’ when she uncovered a memorandum of a meeting between Hadden and Meir Amit, chief of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence services.

One of Hadden’s mantras was “never trust anyone” and the chapter introducing the then chief of CIA counterintelligence, James Jesus Angelton titled “Treason At The Top” exemplifies WHY Hadden’s mantra is also a warning for today.

Mellen’s scholarly yet easy to read historical account of the American Governments involvement in the attack on the USS LIBERTY should be a must read for Congress, the White House and CIA; and if it were, it would change the world as we now know it.

By 1954, James Jesus Angelton was the only person authorized to talk to Israeli intelligence and he began helping Israel build its atomic bomb soon thereafter. Mellen writes that during the 1960’s “Angleton handled the Israeli desk always within the Cold War anti-Soviet ideology that was his stock in trade. It was Angleton who would view Israel’s instigation of the Six Day War as necessary to protect Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona from a ‘grand Soviet design’ that included a nuclear attack on the United States.”

Mellen uncovered the fact that it was Angelton who “sabotaged John F. Kennedy’s policy to send international inspectors to Dimona, where false walls were erected, elevators hidden, and dummy installations built to conceal evidence of the nuclear weapons program just as nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu informed this writer a few weeks after his under-reported freedom of speech trial began in 2006.

As I read Mellen’s chilling historical insights, which continue to fuel USA foreign policies in the Middle East, I was reminded of George Washington’s warning: “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all…and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.”-George Washington’s Farewell Address – 1796


Review of “Blood in the Water”, by Eileen Fleming, Arab Daily News

“Blood in the Water” by Joan Mellen Ends the USS LIBERTY Cover-Up

“Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty” details the USA-Israeli collusion of the attack on the USS LIBERTY during the Six-Day War and is the definitive work to end the over fifty-year long cover-up.

By Eileen Fleming

In the Synopsis of “Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty”, author Joan Mellen explains:

In 2014 I was completing a book exposing dark truths about President Lyndon Johnson that had been suppressed by Johnson’s official biographers whose goal in recent years was to provide cover for an official whose actions not infrequently bordered on the criminal. One day I received an email from a fellow researcher who offered a challenging question: will you be including Johnson’s role in the attack on the USS Liberty? I had never heard of the USS Liberty. When I learned of the ambush of this unarmed USS Intelligence ship, and of Johnson’s role in planning it and then covering it up, I was at once committed to a course that resulted in a new book, “Blood in the Water,” whose subtitle is “How the US and Israel Conspired in the Ambush of the USS Liberty” devoted entirely to the events surrounding the LIBERTY. My goal was to discover who had planned the attack and what was their motive.

Temple University Professor Mellen has published 24 books and researched voraciously regarding the USS Liberty. However “none of the books or articles” she read could answer WHY Israel would attack an American ship and a few hours later admit that they had been behind the attack, but that it was an “accident.”

Mellen asserts that the virtually unarmed USS Liberty was brutally attacked with the intent to send that spy “ship and everyone on it to the bottom of the sea, because the perpetrators were determined to unseat the premier of Egypt, Gamal Abel Nasser by blaming him for the attack. Nasser was highly influential among powers in the Middle East as a neutral, a thorn in the side of the U.S. and Israel. The motive was to so discredit Nasser that he would fall easily from power, leaving his adversaries to maintain political control over the region.”

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A Talk in Colebrook, New Hampshire, 12/1/18: “Blood in the Water: How the United States and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty”

                 In 2014, I was completing a book about Lyndon Johnson. Titled “Faustian Bargains,” it focused on Johnson’s cronies and hangers-on, the favors he extracted from them and the bribes he offered in exchange. It portrayed the man as one of the great hypocrites in history, a racist who sponsored a civil rights bill. Johnson was a ruthless character who has been granted credibility by servile biographers.

                        Several writers I know believe that he had foreknowledge of the Kennedy assassination. I wasn’t sure. But I was glad to be done with him.

                         One evening, just before “Faustian Bargains was published, I received a call from a researcher based in Austin, Texas who had a question for me. Will you be discussing Johnson and his role in the attack on the USS Liberty? I drew a blank.

                     I had never heard of the USS Liberty.  Yet what if there was crucial information about Johnson that had eluded me. As soon as I hung up, I looked up “USS Liberty,” on google and there it was: films, narratives, interviews and a documentary called “Dead in the Water” that raised many questions about the hidden history of this event.

                            I discovered that so successful had been the cover-up of this murderous attack on unarmed sailors that much of the general public knew nothing about this extraordinary episode in American history in which an American intelligence ship had been attacked by a close and much favored ally, the state of Israel. On the afternoon of the attack, Israel admitted its role.  Occurring in the midst of the 1967 Six Day War, this attack was so vicious and protracted, involving rockets and machine guns and napalm as well as boats firing torpedoes, that it was apparent that the objective was to sink the Liberty and drown everyone on it; there were to be no survivors.

                    I added a chapter about the USS Liberty to “Faustian Bargains,” but there were perplexing issues that demanded further investigation. One was whose idea was this atrocity, this murder of innocents? Answering this we could penetrate motive : the why of the story. Why would Israel plan and execute so cruel and senseless an attack on their one ally (France had just broken with them)? What did Israel have to gain?

                    As one of my biographical subjects, the legendary detective story writer Dashiell Hammett, put it to a young fellow soldier stationed in Alaska where Hammett edited the base newspaper during World War II, anyone can reveal HOW something happened. Why don’t you try to find out why, Hammett asked? The chagrined soldier who was seeking his approval was Eliot Asinoff, who  went on to write a book about the Chicago Black Sox scandal, called “Eight Men Out.”

                 Why, I asked myself, would Israel attack an unarmed surveillance ship with the obvious motive to sink the ship and drown everyone on it?

                                 This is a question that has befuddled everyone who tackled this subject, even Jay Cristol, a Florida bankruptcy judge who wrote a book about Liberty from the Israeli point of view. Even Cristol is forced to ponder why Israel would so act against their own interests, even as, perplexed, he is forced to accept Israel’s claim that the whole thing was an “accident” and a “mistake” because they believed they were attacking an Egyptian horse carrier.

                           So I began the book that we are discussing today, “Blood In the Water.” Its subtitle, “How the United States and Israel conspired to ambush the USS Liberty,” reflects the thesis of the book. “Blood in the water” focuses on who was to blame, how the attack came to be, and, of course what Lyndon Johnson had to do with it. One of the books about the attack, by the way, was authored by the son of one of the surviving sailors, John Scott, who died recently; it leaves out Johnson’s role entirely. In 2014, James Scott would serve as the consultant for an al-Jazeera television documentary about the attack and it too leaves out Johnson’s devious, and cruel and well-documented role in these events. The major source for Johnson’s part is our own Commander Dave Lewis.

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