William Gardner wgardne1 at
Fri Apr 30 12:34:15 EDT 2010

Speaking of the "calligraphic style" of Chambara, I'm familiar with this term from Bordwell's Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema and related articles-- and, despite my great admiration for Bordwell's work, I've always a bit skeptical about this term as a stylistic label for a certain type of prewar cinema. Still, I've never been sure if it was Bordwell's invention, or if it came from somewhere else. Does anyone know more about this term and whether it originates outside of, or has travelled beyond, Bordwell's work? 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "ryan cook" <ryan.cook at> 
To: KineJapan at 
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 11:38:19 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: Re: Calligraphy 

Scott Nygren takes up cinematic calligraphy in a figurative sense, drawing on 
Derrida and Karatani, in his book Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the 
Unfolding of History. This is a much more theoretical treatment less 
with literal instances of calligraphy in film than with the idea of a 
"decentered" cinematic ecriture, as Mathieu mentions. Of course there is also 
the talk of the calligraphic style of chambara, for example, where camera 
movement itself is likened to bold strokes of the brush. 


Quoting Mathieu Capel <mathieucapel at>: 

> dear Markus, 
> Talking about Yoshida, the finale of Jôen/The affair shows a beautiful piece 
> of calligraphy, written by Okada's character (well, I assume it's not really 
> her, for we only see hands at that time) on the shôji of her summer house - 
> and I think it has a strong meaning regarding the plot and the rest of the 
> film. I mean, here calligraphy - or let's say the act of writing - seems to 
> be related to the death of her love affair, and the end of her dreams of 
> freedom... I wonder if one could not link that to Derrida and Karatani when 
> they talk about "Ecriture", etc. (?) 
> Best, 
> Mathieu Capel 
> 2010/4/30 Mark Nornes <amnornes at> 
>> <thomas.lamarre at> wrote: 
>> it's not actually calligraphy but talismanic writing plays a central role: 
>>> Onmyôji. 
>> Why isn't it calligraphy? 
>> M 
> -- 
> Mathieu Capel 
> 67 rue de la Roquette 
> 75011 Paris 
> 06 50 32 45 00 / 01 43 79 19 19 
> mathieucapel at 

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the KineJapan mailing list