A New History of Japanese Cinema: A Century of Narrative Film

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A&C Black, Jan 1, 2005 - Performing Arts - 414 pages
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Cinema, which first arrived in Japan in 1896 with the Kinetoscope prototype, came at the very time that Japan was transforming its economic base and society into that of a major international power. The first cinema, the Asakusa Denkikan, was opened in Tokyo in 1903 and within thirteen years three hundred cinemas had sprung up throughout the country. In A New History of Japanese Cinema: A Century of Narrative Film, Isolde Standish focuses on the historical development of Japanese film. She details an industry and an art form shaped by the competing and merging forces of traditional culture and of economic and technological innovation. Adopting a thematic, exploratory approach, Standish links the concept of Japanese cinema as a system of communication with some of the central discourses of the twentieth century: modernism, nationalism, humanism, resistance, and gender. After an introduction outlining the earliest years of cinema in Japan, Standish demonstrates cinema's symbolic position in Japanese society in the 1930s—as both a metaphor and a motor of modernity. Moving into the late thirties and early forties, Standish analyses cinema's relationship with the state-focusing in particular on the war and occupation periods. The book's coverage of the post-occupation period looks at "romance" films in particular. Avant-garde directors came to the fore during the 1960s and early seventies, and their work is discussed in depth. The book concludes with an investigation of genre and gender in mainstream films of recent years. In grappling with Japanese film history and criticism, most western commentators have concentrated on offering interpretations of what have come to be considered "classic" films. A New History of Japanese Cinema takes a genuinely innovative approach to the subject, and should prove an essential resource for many years to come. Includes an 8-page color plate section and an 8-page black and white plate section.

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A new history of Japanese cinema: a century of narrative film

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Within the framework of Japan's culture, politics, and history, Standish (convenor of Asian & African cinema, Univ. of London) analyzes in depth many Japanese films of the last 100 years--most of ... Read full review



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Page 13 - ... for the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual. To an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility. From a photographic negative, for example, one can make any number of prints; to ask for the 'authentic
Page 13 - ... language system. The real communicative 'products' which are usuable signs are, on the contrary, living evidence of a continuing social process, into which individuals are born and within which they are shaped, but to which they then also actively contribute, in a continuing process. This is at once their socialization and their individuation: the connected aspects of a single process which the alternative theories of 'system' and 'expression' had divided and dissociated. We then find not a reified...
Page 24 - As it is practiced in the American academy today, literary theory has for the most part isolated textuality from the circumstances, the events, the physical senses that made it possible and render it intelligible as the result of human work.

About the author (2005)

Isolde Standish is a Senior Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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