Kyoto on Film, 1945-1964

Alexander Jacoby a_p_jacoby at
Thu Oct 19 19:09:27 EDT 2006

Dear All,

To move us away from the curious stream-of-consciousness messages that have lately assaulted KineJapan, let me ask a simple, sensible question.

I am currently starting my PHD, supervised by KineJapan member Alastair Phillips. My thesis will focus on representations of Kyoto in the two decades after the war. The starting point is obviously 1945; the end is a bit more malleable, as there is no comparably earth-shaking event in the sixties; but 1964, when Japan was admitted to the OECD, hosted the Olympics and opened the shinkansen, seems a fairly sensible finishing date. I'm intending to focus on the way that images of Kyoto in film express the changing attitudes of the Japanese to their own cultural traditions as their country modernised. 

I'm looking, therefore, for films made during that period, and set in Kyoto. They need to be films where the Kyoto setting is significant: for instance, Rashomon is set at the main gate of a Kyoto temple, but I'm not convinced it's really a film "about Kyoto". On the other hand, Yoshimura's geisha film, Clothes of Deception, is very clearly a film whose central concern is with Kyoto culture and what the city means as a repository of Japanese cultural traditions which were then being challenged in the rush to modernisation.

I'm interested in both gendai-geki and jidai-geki, and welcome all suggestions of titles. The films also don't have to be set wholly in Kyoto - films with sequences there, such as Gosho's Hunting Rival and Oba's Homecoming, can be useful and interesting. Films that I am already thinking about and which will be central to my thesis include:

Several by Mizoguchi, including Gion Bayashi and The Life of Oharu
Ozu's Late Spring and The Munekata Sisters
Several by Yoshimura (Clothes of Deception, Sisters of Nishijin, Yoru no Kawa, Onna no Saka)
Inagaki's Geisha in the Old City
Ichikawa's Enjo and The Key
Tasaka's House in the Quarter and Lake of Tears (the latter is 1966, but may still be relevant).
Nakamura's Koto

These are mostly gendai-geki, so some significant jidai-geki would be especially useful. If the films are available subtitled somewhere, it would be nice to know where. If only unsubtitled, it would still be nice to know where!



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