attitudes to Ozu tim.iles
Sun Feb 20 12:03:19 EST 2005

The Hasumi work on Ozu struck me as yet another case of chauvinistic
attitudes on the part of some Japanese scholars towards non-Japanese
researchers, and that's why he singled out the western critics at the
beginning--to provide a basis for his opinion that only in Japan does a
"true" understanding of film still exist (of course this opinion is
possible in part because of the insularity of Japanese film
scholars--Yoshimoto Mitsuhiro alludes to this at the beginning of his SAQ
article on the lack of film studies in Japanese universities). The
Japanese do indeed have an important perspective on the cultural products
of their country, but so too do non-Japanese scholars, who often bring a
balance that, well, frankly speaking, really is necessary. Reminds me of
the criticism I got at a conference recently from a female
Japanese-Canadian professor who argued that I couldn't bring a western
feminist perspective to Japanese film because that standard didn't apply
to Japanese women... On the other hand the other Japanese women in the
audience were certainly quite pleased to ignore her...

As far as the majority of young Japanese whom I meet are concerned, Ozu
might as well be a Greek, French, English, or Martian filmmaker--they've
never heard of him, or if they have, as some dimly-remembered name from
the mists of the past, they've never seen any of his films. Mind you, the
same can be said of many Japanese directors, even contemporary ones--I'm
always impressed by the numbers of young Japanese who tell me they just
don't like Japanese films. (The best reason so far? "They have too much
humanism"! ^_^)


Tim Iles
University of Victoria

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