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TitleJapanese Cinema Texts And Contexts
CategoryArts - Film
File Size3.9 MB
Total Pages382
Table of Contents
                            BOOK COVER
1 THE SALARYMAN’S PANIC TIME: Ozu Yasujiro’s I Was Born, But … (1932)
2 ALL FOR MONEY: Mizoguchi Kenji’s Osaka Elegy (1936)
3 TURNING SERIOUS: Yamanaka Sadao’s Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937)
4 COUNTRY RETREAT: Shimizu Hiroshi’s Ornamental Hairpin (1941)
5 THE RIDDLE OF THE VASE: Ozu Yasujiro's Late Spring (1949)
6 HISTORY THROUGH CINEMA: Mizoguchi Kenji’s The Life of O-Haru (1952)
7 THE MENACE FROM THE SOUTH SEAS: Honda Ishiro's Godzilla (1954)
8 SEVEN SAMURAI AND SIX WOMEN: Kurosawa Akira’s Seven Samurai (1954)
9 WOMEN’S STORIES IN POST-WAR JAPAN: Naruse Mikio’s Late Chrysanthemums (1954)
10 A CINEMATIC CREATION: Ichikawa Kon’s Conflagration (1958)
11 MODERNIZATION WITHOUT MODERNITY: Masumura Yasuzo’s Giants and Toys (1958)
12 QUESTIONS OF THE NEW: Oshima Nagisa’s Cruel Story of Youth (1960)
13 ETHNICIZING THE BODY AND FILM: Teshigahara Hiroshi’s Woman in the Dunes (1964)
14 DARK VISIONS OF JAPANESE FILM NOIR: Suzuki Seijun’s Branded to Kill (1967)
15 EROTICISM IN TWO DIMENSIONS Shinoda Masahiro’s Double Suicide (1969)
16 TRANSGRESSION AND THE POLITICS OF PORN: Oshima Nagisa’s In the Realm of the Senses (1976)
17 UNSETTLED VISIONS: Imamura Shohei’s Vengeance is Mine (1979)
18 PLAYING WITH POSTMODERNISM: Morita Yoshimitsu’s The Family Game (1983)
19 TRANSGRESSION AND RETRIBUTION: Yanagimachi Mitsuo’s Fire Festival (1985)
20 COMMUNITY AND CONNECTION: Itami Juzo’s Tampopo (1985)
21 THE IMAGINATION OF THE TRANSCENDENT: Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Maborosi (1995)
22 THERAPY FOR HIM AND HER: Kitano Takeshi’s Hana-Bi (1997)
23 THE ORIGINAL AND THE COPY: Nakata Hideo’s Ring (1998)
24 THE GLOBAL MARKETS FOR ANIME: Miyazaki Hayao’s Spirited Away (2001)
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Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts includes twenty-four chapters on key films
of Japanese cinema, from the silent era to the present day, providing a com-
prehensive introduction to Japanese cinema history and Japanese culture and

Studying a range of important films, from Late Spring, Seven Samurai and In the
Realm of the Senses to Godzilla, Hana-Bi and Ring, the collection includes discus-
sion of all the major directors of Japanese cinema including Ozu, Mizoguchi,
Kurosawa, Oshima, Suzuki, Kitano and Miyazaki.

Each chapter discusses the film in relation to aesthetic, industrial or critical
issues and ends with a complete filmography for each director. The book also
includes a full glossary of terms and a comprehensive bibliography of readings
on Japanese cinema.

Bringing together leading international scholars and showcasing pioneering
new research, this book is essential reading for all students and general readers
interested in one of the world’s most important film industries.

Contributors: Carole Cavanaugh, Darrell William Davis, Rayna Denison,
David Desser, Linda Ehrlich, Freda Freiberg, Aaron Gerow, Alexander Jacoby,
D. P. Martinez, Keiko I. McDonald, Joan Mellen, Daisuke Miyao, Mori Toshie,
Abé Mark Nornes, Alastair Phillips, Michael Raine, Donald Richie, Catherine
Russell, Isolde Standish, Julian Stringer, Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano, Yomota
Inuhiko, Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto.

Alastair Phillips is Associate Professor in Film Studies at the University of

Julian Stringer is Associate Professor in Film Studies at the University of

Page 191

representation of their inner turmoil and struggle. The combination of the use
of Cinemascope and a telephoto lens in cramped interior scenes isolates the
characters physically from their surroundings. This claustrophobic feeling is
further accentuated by the collapse of distance between foreground and back-
ground, the frequent absence of establishing shots, and Ōshima’s apparent lack
of interest in constructing a coherent cinematic space or environment which
would give a historical depth to fictional characters on screen. We learn nothing
about Kiyoshi’s family background such as details of his birthplace, parents,
and upbringing. His elder brother appears briefly in a jail scene, but this does
not lead to any new revelation about Kiyoshi. The same thing can be said about
the circumstances surrounding other important characters, including Makoto’s
elder sister Yuki and her former boyfriend Akimoto. They belong to an earlier
generation of student activists who fought against the post-war government’s
abandonment of a democratization policy and turn to the right in the early
1950s, but who eventually failed to achieve their goal because of tactical errors
and psychological weakness. Neither Akimoto nor Yuki are conventionally
rounded characters; instead, they stand as representative types belonging to the
socio-political history of post-war Japan. These figurations of characters as
distillations of political ideas and subjective positions can be best understood
within the framework of what Ōshima tried to achieve in one of his early film
scripts, Deep-Sea Fishes (Shinkai gyogun, 1957), which is about the student
movement of the early 1950s and its inner struggle and betrayal involving
different generations of characters such as high school teachers, college students
and high school students. Because the sunlight does not reach beyond a certain
depth in the sea, some kinds of deep-sea fishes emit light from their own bodies,
thus enabling them to survive without being completely dependent on the
surrounding environment of complete darkness. The deep-sea fish characters of
the script’s title therefore refer to human agents of action who refuse to be
controlled by the environment and grope for a way to social change, and ultim-
ately a revolution, by acting of their own free will. Although the narrative of the
script most closely resembles that of Ōshima’s fourth film, Night and Fog in
Japan (Nihon no yoru to kiri, 1960), the figuration of characters as ‘deep-sea fishes’
also resonates well with the protagonists of Cruel Story: Kiyoshi and Makoto,
and their counterparts from the earlier generation, Akimoto and Yuki.

In Cruel Story, the rebellious young people are not depicted as a mere social
phenomenon to be observed or criticized. Instead, they appear as active agents
of action situated in the specific context of post-war Japanese society. Although
he sees a significant new development in the ‘sun tribe films’, particularly in
their depictions of sex and violence permeated by the sense of a stifling situ-
ation, Ōshima insists that the impatience with the social status quo in these
films remains quite superficial and abstract. Ishihara Shintarō, the author of the
novella Season of the Sun, was a bourgeois youth who had no clear understanding
of the concrete socio-political causes that lay underneath the stifling feelings
shared by many young people. Moreover, the filmmakers who made the ‘sun
tribe films’ observed the notion of impatient youth merely as a social phenom-
enon from the position of the distant observer. As a result, the ‘sun tribe films’

N A G I S A ’ S C R U E L S T O RY O F Y O U T H


Page 192

and their descendants, the Nikkatsu action movies, are surprisingly conserva-
tive in their treatment of youthful rebellion. The young heroes of these movies
may appear to be a radically new type of Japanese person who has severed all ties
with pre-war Japan, yet their defiant behavior still comes from rather old-
fashioned problems concerning parent–child relationships or sibling rivalry.
Because of the melodramatic sentiments underlying many popular youth films,
it is not too difficult to convert a rebellious hero to a dutiful son as in the case of
the quintessential sun tribe star, Ishihara Yūjirō. In contrast, the possibility of
such co-optation is completely absent in Cruel Story. Ōshima consciously avoids
images of family and familial links as a constitutive element in the formation of
characters. As pointed out above, Kiyoshi is a lone hero without any family ties.
The brief appearance of his elder brother at the jail does not draw him back into
the sphere of his family. Instead, the utterly forgettable character of his brother
reinforces how alone Kiyoshi is. The only family appearing in the film, that of
Makoto, plays a similar role of negating the significance of this social institu-
tion. What the dysfunctional unit of the father and his two daughters shows is
that the family in Cruel Story is not a foundational social unit giving its mem-
bers a clearly defined sense of belonging and identity, but a mere reflection of
the current state of society. Father says he cannot reprimand Makoto because
there is no democratic social ideal or moral standard in society (‘Times were
tough after the war, but we had a way of life. I could have lectured you [Yuki]
that we were reborn a democratic nation; that responsibility went hand-in-hand
with freedom. But today what can we say to this child [Makoto]? Nothing. I
don’t want to tell her not to do something’.) Again, Makoto’s family is repre-
sented to show precisely the insignificance of family as a site of social struggle
and subject formation. Without family to fall back on in the last resort,
the protagonists Kiyoshi and Makoto are forced to confront their problems as
absolute individuals.

The utter loneliness of the protagonists can be discussed in terms of the film’s
thematic focus on the question of money. Almost every human relationship in
the film revolves around money. The relationship of Kiyoshi and Makoto starts
when the former saves the latter from a middle-aged businessman’s sexual
advances in front of a hotel. When Kiyoshi threatens to call the police, the man
begs him not to do it and gives him 5,000 yen. Kiyoshi and Makoto meet again
to have fun by spending this hush money. The subsequent development of their
relationship is directly correlated to the circulation of money, through which
their minds and bodies are increasingly objectified. When they try to get out of
this cycle, unlike in a traditional lovers’ double suicide drama, Kiyoshi and
Makoto are forced to face their own deaths individually. Yuki and Akimoto,
who see for a moment a glimpse of hope in the aimless rebellion of Makoto and
Kiyoshi, were platonically in love with each other when they were students, but
their relationship ended when Yuki started dating a richer man. Akimoto, who
seems to remain faithful to his idealistic belief in helping the poor, turns out to
be illegally performing abortions for money. Kiyoshi’s friend, Itō, is a student
activist who first appears in the film as a participant in the street demonstration
against the US–Japan Security Treaty. Itō’s enthusiasm for leftist politics is soon

N A G I S A ’ S C R U E L S T O RY O F Y O U T H


Page 381

Tōhō 6, 26, 54, 102, 103, 109, 163,

Toita, Michizō 184
Tōkai kōkyōgaku (see Metropolitan

Toki no ujigami (see Man of the Right

Moment, The)
Tōkyō biyori (see Tokyo Fair Weather)
Tokyo Chorus (Tōkyō no kōrasu, Ozu) 27
Tokyo Drifter (Tōkyō nagare-mono, Suzuki)

17, 197
Tokyo Fair Weather (Tōkyō biyori, Takenaka)

Tokyo Lullaby (Tōkyō yakyoku, Ichikawa)

Tōkyō monogatari (see Tokyo Story)
Tōkyō nagare-mono (see Tokyo Drifter)
Tōkyō no kōrasu (see Tokyo Chorus)
Tokyo Olympic Games 9, 190, 197, 234,

Tōkyō sensō sengo hiwa (see Man Who Left

His Will on Film, The)
Tokyo Story (Tōkyō monogatari, Ozu) 17, 21,

126, 178, 229, 238, 268, 280
Tōkyō yakyoku (see Tokyo Lullaby)
Tomie (Oikawa) 304
Tomioka, Taeko 208, 209
Tomorrow’s Joe (Ashita no Jō, Chiba and

Takamori) 205
Tōno monogatari (see Tales of Tono)
Tora no o o fumu otokotachi (see Men Who

Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, The)
Town of Love and Hope, A (Ai to kibō no

machi, Ōshima) 168
Treasury of Loyal Retainers, The (Kanadehon

chūshingura) 56
Tsai, Ming-liang 276
Tsubaki Sanjūrō (see Sanjuro)
Tsuburaya, Eiji 102, 103, 104
Tsuchi (see Earth)
Tsuji, Nobuo 263
Tsuma wa kokuhaku suru (see Wife Confesses,

Tsuma yo bara no yō ni (see Wife, Be Like a

Tsumura, Hideo 184, 189
Tsuyu kosode mukashi hachijō (see Old Story of

the Wet Silk Coat, The)
Turn (Hirayama) 304
Twelve Monkeys (Gilliam) 301

Uchen puchan (see No Money, No Fight)
Uchida, Takehiro 223
Uchida, Tomu 18, 59, 61n
Ueda, Makoto 267

Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari, Mizoguchi) 17,
21, 138, 187, 257

Ugetsu monogatari (see Ugetsu)
Ukigumo (see Floating Clouds)
Umarete wa mita keredo (see I Was Born,

Umemoto, Katsumi 155, 164n
Unagi (see Eel, The)
Until the Day We Meet Again (Mata au hi

made, Imai) 220
US-Japan Security Treaty 168, 173, 174,

Utajo oboegaki (see Notes of a Female Singer)
Utamaro and His Five Women (Utamaru o

meguru gonin no onna, Mizoguchi) 95
Utamaru o meguru gonin no onna (see

Utamaro and His Five Women)
Uwasa no onna (see Woman of Rumor, The)
Uzumaki (Higuchinsky) 304

Vanilla Sky (Crowe) 301
Vanishing, The (Sluizer 1988 and 1993)

Vengeance is Mine (Fukushū suru wa ware ni

ari, Imamura) 229, 230, 231–9
blurring of documentary and fiction

232, 236
Imamura career 229–31
landscape and space 234–8
production history 231–2
temporality 233–4

Venice Film Festival 90, 113, 114, 162,
187, 189, 191n, 273, 285

Verevis, Constantine 297
Victory Song (Hisshōka, Shimizu) 74
Village of Dreams (E no naka no boku no

mura, Higashi) 275, 276
Village Tattooed Man, The (Machi no

irezumi-mono, Yamanaka) 52, 55, 60
Vincendeau, Ginette 1, 13, 14, 18

Wada, Natto 138
Wada-Marciano, Mitsuyo 11, 14, 19, 27,

Waga koi wa moenu (see My Love Has Been

Waga seishun ni kui nashi (see No Regrets for

Our Youth)
Wakamatsu, Kōji 15, 194, 222
Wakao, Ayako 164
Walker, Alexander 300
War at Sea from Hawaii to Malay, The

(Hawai marē oki kaisen, Tsuburaya)

War Without Morality (Jingi naki tatakai) 9



Page 382

Warm Current (Danryū, Masumura) 156
Washburn, Dennis 139, 233
Watanabe, Takenobu 199
Wenders, Wim 78
What is Your Name (Kimi no na wa, Ōba)

What Made Her Do It? (Nani ga kanojo o sō

sasetaka, Suzuki) 5
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Onna ga

kaidan o agaru toki, Naruse) 17
Where Now are the Dreams of Youth? (Seishun

no yume ima izuko, Ozu) 27, 34
White Heron (Shirasagi, Hayashi) 126
White Threads of the Waterfall, The (Taki no

shiraito, Mizoguchi) 39
Whole Family Works, The (Hataraku ikka,

Naruse) 59
Wife, Be Like a Rose (Tsuma yo bara no yō ni,

Naruse) 6, 61n
Wife Confesses, A (Tsuma wa kokuhaku suru,

Masumura) 164
Williams, Linda 223, 226
Woman Called Abe Sada, A (Jitsuroku Abe

Sada, Tanaka) 218, 225
Woman in the Dunes (Suna no onna,

Teshigahara) 14, 19, 180–84, 185,

ethnicity 181–3, 185–8, 190
international reception 187–90
nikutai eiga 184–5
star discourse 183–6
subjectivity 181, 187

Woman of Rumor, The (Uwasa no onna,
Mizoguchi) 46

Wood, Robin 265, 270

Yagira, Yūya 274
Yama no oto (see Sound of the Mountain)
Yamada, Isuzo 18

Yamada, Sakae 87
Yamada, Taichi 242
Yamamoto, Kajirō 102
Yamamoto, Kikuo 278
Yamamoto, Satsuo 175
Yamamoto, Shūgoro 112
Yamamoto, Yohji 286–7
Yamanaka, Sadao 6, 16, 18, 50–62
Yamane, Sadao 64, 243, 248
Yamatoya, Atsushi 193, 201
Yamazaki, Tsutomu 271n
Yanagimachi, Mitsuo 9, 253–62
Yanagita, Kunio 107, 235
Yang, Edward 276
Yatappe from Seki (Seki no Yatappe,

Yamanaka) 55
Yeh, Yueh-yu 280–1
Yoda, Yoshikata 39, 97
Yojimbo (Yōjinbō, Kurosawa) 121n
Yōjinbō (see Yojimbo)
Yōkihi (see Princess Yang Kwei-fei)
Yomota, Inuhiko 180, 196
Yoshida, Kijū 158, 163, 164n
Yoshida, Yoshishige 9, 200
Yoshimoto, Mitsuhiro 10, 13, 14, 20, 86,

114, 121n
Yoshimoto, Takaaki 242
Yoshimura, Kōzaburō 156
Yoshizawa 3
Yottsu no yubune (see Four Bathtubs, The)
Yuki fujin ezu (see Picture of Madame Yuki,

Yukiguni (see Snow Country)
Yume (see Dreams)

Zangiku monogatari (see Story of Late
Chrysanthemums, The)

Zenshinza 52, 54, 55, 56, 59, 60
Zigeunerweisen (Suzuki) 200, 202



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