Sybil Thornton sybil.thornton at
Fri Apr 7 14:18:35 EDT 2000

>From another Japanese medievalist who 1) teaches film courses 2) has a
film degree and 3) knows about as much as you do about theory--

My students keep talking about films being real, but they are actually
talking about  two different kinds of effects or even effectiveness, not
reality:  realist is one film style identified with long shot, moving
shot, medium to long shots, etc.; formalist is another style identified
with short shots, different angles, "heavy" editing, ie, obvious in its
production.  As I keep telling my students, neither type is more real,
they are both effective in terms of producing responses in the viewer.


Mizoguchi does not come out against oppression; but his scenarist Yoda
Yoshikata does.  And most of the time he's talking about abusive "geeks"
like Mizoguchi.  Yoda's scripts are about the ugly because normal
situation where the individual is assimilated into a repressive social
system at the point where he takes advantage of it.  Most of Yoda's
characters use women in the licenced quarters and corollary entertainment
industry--whether by buying their services or painting them.  The women
are there because 1) in the Tokugawa period, sex served as a carefully
supervised social steam valve and 2) in the modern period, poor men sold
their daughters to pay their taxes or their debts..

Lewis Cook wrote:

>     Thanks to Dunn Brian, Aaron Gerow and Gavin Rees for replies. I
> apologize for my petulance. I do appreciate the commercial
> information, much of it is fascinating for what it says about the
> emergence of "Asian" cinema and its audiences.
>     But let me try throwing out a question for another thread (I am
> not deliberately trying to sound naive but have to confess that I'm
> one of those amateurs --- my field is medieval Japanese lit. --- who
> teaches a course in Japanese film & fiction because the demand is
> there and no specialists are available. I have been showing Japanese
> films to college audiences in the USA off and on for 20 some years but
> still know nearly  nothing about film theory, cinematography, etc.)
>     I showed "Sisters of the Gion" to a class this week (the students
> were awed, I suspect partly because they'd never imagined that a film
> that old --- 1936! --- might be worth watching). I tried to explain
> that Mizoguchi's "one-scene one-shot" (a phrase I learned from Keiko
> McDonald's book) technique tends to enhance the effect of "realism" by
> confining the viewer to the role of a voyeur (roughly analogous to the
> technique of the restricted -- non-omniscient --  narrator in Henry
> James, e.g.) The obvious objection was, wouldn't multiple shots of the
> same scene, on the contrary, deliver more "reality," and also what
> about "Rashomon" (which seems to have more cuts per minute than any
> other film on the syllabus) --- isn't that supposed to put "realism"
> in its place? I promised to respond to these questions next week, but
> sure could use some help. (Another question which came up --- why
> should a geek like Mizoguchi have come out so strongly on oppression
> of women, apart from the biographical motives?)
>     Lewis Cook
>     Queens College, CUNY
> >This list has to contain a certain amount of commercial information,
> because
> >many of the people working with Japanese film, be they writers or
> >distributors need to use that information in order to publicise it.
> >
> >Saying that most of the people who need to use that very information
> would
> >probably rather talk about something else, and usually give their
> time very
> >freely when a less "commercially polluted" topic arises.
> >
> >Perhaps you might like to start another thread going to see how
> others
> >respond?  I suspect if it is interesting enough then you would tempt
> people
> >out.
> >
> >All the best,
> >
> >Gavin Rees
> >
> >----------
> >>From: "Lewis  Cook" <lcoqc at>
> >>To: <KineJapan at>
> >>Subject: Re: Cinemoney
> >>Date: Thu, Apr 6, 2000, 6:54 am
> >>
> >
> >>
> >>
> >>>In another effort to find financing for Japanese film, a new web
> >> site,
> >>>, has been created to help fund new films.  Those
> >> interested
> >>>become member supporters (at different levels of support) and gain
> >>>various "services" in exchange: free tickets, party invitations,
> >>>invitation to be an extra, etc.
> >>
> >>     Yes, I appreciate the fine intentions, but need this list deal
> so
> >> exclusively in commerce? I keep hoping to see some interesting
> >> discussion of Japanese film qua "film," and all that turns up are
> box
> >> office records, top ten listings, Oscaroid filmography and now a
> >> solicitation for funding. Is this it?
> >>
> >>     Lewis Cook
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>

S.A. Thornton
History, ASU

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