Japanese Art Cinema Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1537 Words
Date:  2022-05-17


The rich and synthetic Japanese art has played a major role in the development of its art cinema. The haiku has a narrative structure that is important in understanding the Japanese filmmaking foundations. Realism and fantasy are the two main groups in which the Japanese filmmaking is split. The first option of realism was first represented by Mikio Naruse in the Otome-gokoro-Sannin-Shimai (1935). The fantasy option was also represented by Mizoguchi in 1953 with the Ugetsu Monogatari. The Japanese cinema art also has different genres. One of the genres is the Samurai cinema. Akira Kurosawa headed the Samurai whose best works of the genre are Sanjuro (1962) and Yojimbo (1961). Akira Kurosawa introduced the formal Western style.

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His main focus was the narration of the story. He created various styles of cinematography which even influenced blockbuster movies. Shakespeare played a huge role in influencing his style and narratives like Throne of Blood (1957). Shohei Imamura is a director with interests in humanism, questioning the economic system transformation like The Pornographers (1966). Yasujiro Ozu is a director who was admired and known for telling endearing tales about the Japanese middle class after the war. Ozu produced quite a number of masterpieces like the Tokyo Story (1953). That is a description of the elderly couple travelling to Tokyo, to see their children but discovers that they have no time. Japanese cinema has also been built by Kon Ichikawa's anti-war films. One such film is The Burmese Harp (1956).

The Yakuza can be likened to the gangster films of Hollywood. It documents the various elements and the nature of the Japanese mafia. It depicts some cultural phenomenon like that of the tradition of the samurai. The Face of Another (1966) bears a metaphorical exploration of the dark side of humans and the filmmaking art. Being one of the largest and oldest filmmakers worldwide, Japan has continued to shape the art of filmmaking. The Japanese film industry has also transformed and transitioned to be one of the most competitive on the world stage. In 2015 alone, the total number of screens registered was 3,437. The main distributors of the Japanese films are; Walt Disney, Toho and Toei Company.

The Japanese filmmaking has come from the style of storytelling that featured storytellers sitting next to screens and narrating silent movies to the four films in 2010. It received international recognition after its selection to compete in international film festivals. Japanese Filmmaking continues to transcend the international media although Hollywood remains one of its major competitors because of the modern nature. This article will look at the films above in a closer perspective, to understand the journey, nature and the significance of the Japanese filmmaking. The films featured will, however, be limited to the years between 1930 and 1967. This was the time when television played a big role in shaping the nature of filmmaking. From the theatre televisions to the subscription television, television has helped to give films a platform to traverse cultures and nations.

Otome-gokoro-Sannin-Shimai (1935)

The film was first released in 1935 on 1st March. Its director was Mikio Naruse and was narrated by Yasunari Kawabata. Its production company was Toho Co., Ltd. Three sisters are street musicians and they earn some small amount of fee from bars as tips. The children earn the money for their mother. This film (Naruse) depicts the kind of abuse that children go through. They are mostly used, even by their parents as tools for exploitation. Those who would help them and protect them actually turn against them.

Ugetsu MonogatariThe film (Mizoguchi) was published first in 1776. Its author was Ueda Akinari. It was largely taken by the ghost stories of the Chinese. The film occupies an important position between the Edo period, which is the Japanese fiction in the middle of Edo period. The significance of the film is that it links up history with literature. That is because, the film has rich sources of historical references to literature, historical events and personages.

Sanjuro (1962)

The Sanjuro was initially released on the first of January 1962 in Japan with Akira Kurosawa as its director. Its production company was Toho Co., Ltd. Samurai aids a group of young warriors to exterminate the evil influences of the tribe. In the process, Samurai is teaching them the true meaning of being a proper samurai. The film (Kurosawa) presents the nature and process of getting rid of the evils in the society. Bravery and commitment were the fundamental principles that marked the true warrior and member of the clan. The film is also rich in with the martial arts culture.

Yojimbo (1961)

The story was written by Akira Kurosawa and it was produced and directed by Kurosawa Production Company and distributed by Toho. This was the most popular work of Kurosawa in Japan. The film is very influential and effortlessly engaging, a representation of Kurosawa at the peak of his career. A nameless group of Samurai invades a village that has two rival businesspeople struggling to gain control over the market of gambling. It later leads to war between the gang and businessmen. In this film (Kurosawa), the Kurosawa style of inclusion of war and conflict is quite visible.

Throne of Blood (1957)

The film is mainly based on William Shakespeare, although it was produced by Sojiro Motoki and Akira Kurosawa and directed by Akira Kurosawa, thus bearing a tinge of Japanese style in the Shakespeare based film (Kurosawa). The samurai warriors are returning to the castle when a spirit waylays them by prophesying their future. After a short while, one of the prophecies comes to pass and the wife of Washizu pushed him into murdering his king and taking his place by force. Kurosawa once again proves his professionalism and skills in filmmaking and directing by retelling Shakespeare's "Macbeth".

The Pornographers (1966)

This is a comedy-drama kind of film which is based on the Erogotoshitachi novel by Akiyui Nosaka. It was produced by Imamura Productions. The film (Imamura) is based on a pornographer who strives to hide from the mob. With him, he sees nothing wrong with what he does. He uses his money to support his landlady and her family. He also sleeps with her occasionally. The director Imamura creates humor in such practices and this work received a lot of criticism. However, the film managed to survive the huge backlash.

Tokyo Story (1953)

The Tokyo Story is a Japanese drama produced by Shochiku Company and directed by Yasujiro Ozu. A visit of an old couple to see their children and grandchildren turns bad as the children are too busy with the routines. The parents go back home and in some few days later, a grandmother passes on and it's the children's turn to make the journey. This is an emotional depiction of how the old people were neglected by their own children. The Yasujiro Ozu's work is packaged in a real manner, without the sentimental triggers. The director chose not to usurp emotion from the audience but to let the audience have their own take (Ozu).

The Burmese Harp (1956)

It is a Japanese film that was directed by Kon Ichikawa. It is one of Ichikawa's masterpieces because of its spiritual resonant and deep humor. The tale of the Burmese Harp is set in a war zone area. As the Japanese and the British soldiers are engaged in bitter combat, the Japanese soldiers are starving and one of them starts to play the harp. That gets the better of the soldiers' emotions and feelings and they eventually stopped the killings and the wars (Ichikawa). This movie gained international recognition and is one of Ichikawa's first film to gain international acclamation. It plays an important role in defining moral responsibility even in the gravest condition.

The Face of Another (1966)

It is a Japanese movie directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara based on Kobo Abe's novel of the same name. In the film, a businessman whose face had been disfigured gets a mask from his doctor but the mask begins to change his personality. It incorporates science fiction with the surgeon's work changing the personality of a person. The film provokes thought of the face carrying the identity and thus determining the personality of a person. It is one of the films that demonstrated science fiction at its best (Teshigahara).

Rashomon (1950)

The film was directed by Akira Kurosawa and is based on Akutagawa's story "Rashomon". The film employs various roles of characters like the subjective, alternative, contradictory and self-serving. The film (Kurosawa) introduced the entrance of Japanese films into the world. That is because; it won several awards including the 'Golden Lion' at an international festival. It also won other major international awards being named one of the best and greatest movies ever made.

Works Cited

Otome-gokoro-Sannin-Shimai. Directed by Mikio Naruse. Toho Co., Ltd, 1935. Drama

Ugetsu. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Daiei Film, 1953. Romantic Fantasy.

Sanjuro. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Toho Co., Ltd, 1962. Comic Yojimbo. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Kazuo Miyagawa, 1961. Thriller/Comic

Throne of Blood. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Toho Studios, 1957. Drama/Thriller The Pornographers. Directed by Shohei Imamura. Imamura Productions, 1966. Drama/Erotic

Tokyo Story. Directed by Yasujiro Ozu. Shochiku, 1953. Drama The Burmese Harp. Directed by Kon Ichikawa. Nikkatsu, 1956. Drama/Music

The Face of Another. Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara. Teshigahara Pro, 1966. Drama/Science Fiction Rashomon. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. 1950. Drama/Mystery

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Japanese Art Cinema Essay. (2022, May 17). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/japanese-art-cinema-essay

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