Realism in Japanese Cinema
Tue Apr 11 02:05:24 EDT 2000
There seems to be some interest in this topic, so perhaps I can formulate
some questions in the following way:
What are the problems entailed in calling Japanese films "realist"? Some
have already brought up the difficulty in applying "Western categories"
to Japanese works, but what specifically does not fit with these
categories (which I might emphasize are plural and not always consistent
with each other)? Are concepts of realism itself illegitimate for
discussing Japanese film (or film in general), or have Western realisms
been subjected to adaption, appropriation, and rejection?
This brings up the issue, which I raised, about how discourses within
Japan have discussed the relationship between film and reality. How has
film criticism and theory in Japan approached this problem? What
directors or genres have been singled out and why? When did the issue of
realism and cinema first appear and why? How has it changed over time?
Some of those working on documentary may be able to tell us something
about how this "realistic mode" of cinema was defined and what concepts
of realism and reality were used. The issue can spread beyong film into
literature in the other arts. Maybe those expert in those areas can
postulate about the problem of realism in Japanese cinema by relating it
to debates in, say, Japanese literature from naturalism to proletariat
literature about the relationship of art and reality.
Yokohama National University
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