Japanese Cinema of the 1920s and 1930s
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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My interest in this project on Japanese cinema in the 1920s and 1930s has a personal side connected with my father. In 1992, my father passed away rather unexpectedly at the age of sixty-one. He was born in 1931, when Shochiku Kamata films reigned in Japan. With his death I sensed that I had also lost an experiential link with the Japanese past, and I pondered how such links with...
Note on Transliteration
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Throughout the book, I have omitted the macron, which typically indicates long vowels in romanized Japanese words. I did so for the sake of consistency over what I see as a selective and oft en arbitrary use of the diacritic....
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If recognition is the beginning of a history, Japanese film history literally started in 1951 outside of Japan, when Kurosawa Akira’s Rashomon (1950) won first prize at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. From that time on, a few Japanese filmmakers have been recognized via international festivals, and countless books on those filmmakers have been dedicated to analyzing their works. Kurosawa...
1. The Creation of Modern Space
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Space as a conceptual term has been theorized by many scholars, although there exists no consensus about its most productive use in critical writing.1 In film studies, most writing has focused on space as a form in the filmic text often in relation to narrative, without a connection to the space “outside” the screen. “Space and Narrative in the Films of Ozu,” by Kristin Thompson and David...
2. Vernacular Meanings of Genre: The Middle-Class Film
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Why has so little film scholarship considered the place of genre in national cinema? Addressing this question, Alan Williams comments on Thomas Schatz’s Hollywood Genres: “The validity of his enterprise is largely determined by the validity of American genre studies (none of his references are texts in foreign languages; very few are translations). And there’s the...
3. Embodying the Modern
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The 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam played as radio drama in Japan, where listeners were enthralled with the first success of Japanese Olympians abroad. As a popular narrative, the Olympic spectacle offered a site for the transfer of Japanese anxieties over modernization, a spectacle in which the audience found compensation in the success of its athletes in an international arena. Against...
4. Imaging Modern Girls in the Japanese Woman's Film
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This chapter focuses on the Japanese “woman’s film” and considers how national and modern gender identities converged in Japan’s interwar period.1 Japanese cinema in this era coincided with a prevalence of cultural discourses on modernity: what it meant to be Japanese and modern was an open question....
5. The Japanese Modern in Film Style
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The very notion of “modern” in Japan signifies a particular series of transformations that distinguish its meaning from the Western sense. When I use the term “modern” in a Japanese context, I am referring to the concept of “modern” as Masao Miyoshi explicates: the term itself in the discourses of Japanese...
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Through my analyses on five aspects of the Japanese cinema in the 1920s and 1930s—Tokyo urban space, the middle-class film genre, modern sports, the woman’s film, and Kamata style—I have shown how Japanese cinema expressed a distinct vision of modernity. My hypothesis is that modern Japanese subjectivity was reified by the Japanese themselves through popular culture,...
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Publication Year: 2008