Re: Tenkô in Japanese film ?

Mark Nornes amnornes at
Tue Aug 28 18:29:00 EDT 2007

On Aug 28, 2007, at 4:35 PM, Cook, Theodore wrote:

> and perhaps most especially at the case of Kamei Fumio, who was  
> jailed during the war for his left-wing thinking, and his film, The  
> Tragedy of Japan (Nihon no higeki) pp. 152-154. You may well  
> already have read this material.

Since someone has mentioned Kamei, I thought I'd mention that I  
discuss the issue of tenko in Japanese Documentary Film. I have to  
say I am ambivalent about the subject. It's easy to make too much of  
tenko. On the other hand, I found it difficult to avoid when it was a  
key feature of so many filmmakers' lives. My treatment of tenko and  
Prokino or the typical Japanese filmmakers probably doesn't add up to  
much. However, I do take a rather contrary position on Kamei, a  
filmmaker I admire more than any other. Kamei is typically held up as  
the only filmmaker to take a stand, refuse tenko, and predictably end  
up in prison. However, as I note, this narrative depends upon the  
suppression of wartime work that never made it into his filmography.


PS: I also wrote a short piece on Kamei for the Yamagata catalog on  
imperial cinema. 
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