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Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of History

Scott Nygren
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Time Frames
    Book Description:

    Time Frames explores how Japanese film criticism and history has been written before and after Rashomon. Scott Nygren looks at the emergence of video art and anime, highlighting the creative exchange among North American, European, and Asian media. He places Japanese film at the center of this discourse, and, ultimately, reveals its global role as a cultural medium.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9797-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxii)

    During a time of terrorism, war, and continuing crisis, a book on Japanese film and culture may seem to be superfluous. Yet while directly contesting terror and domination can be crucial, it is not the only event in the world. There is also always the option of introducing a break—an absence in the midst of a conflicted presence—that allows more possibilities to emerge. This book is dedicated to those proliferating alternatives.

    Simply stated, this book is about representations of time in Japanese film and culture, the inflections of history that these narratives generate, and the dislocations across cultural...

  6. 1 Thresholds
    (pp. 1-25)

    Books have no beginnings, although we like to imagine that they do.

    Once we let go of the illusion that a discourse can be founded in an origin, that effects can be traced to a single cause, and that meaning can be guaranteed by some form of initiating presence no matter how far removed, what then? The topic of this book might once have been thought of as Japanese Film History, but this thought seems already to have reached its limit and passed. Like the writerly books that Roland Barthes loved to read but could no longer write, books on...

  7. 2 Dislocations
    (pp. 26-58)

    Modernism and postmodernism form problematic contexts for the consideration of cultural issues in Asia. Clear categories and a unilateral concept of progress tend to dissolve into a multilateral dynamics of meanings and effects across cultural difference. For example, to what extent has the Western tradition of humanism paradoxically operated as a modernist force throughout this century in Asia, despite its classical and antimodernist role in the West? Cinematic realism and Western-style individualism seem to be continually reconstituted throughout Asia as progressive modes of representation from 1930s Japan to contemporary Vietnam, regardless of the prevailing of official ideology. In contrast, to...

  8. 3 Incisions
    (pp. 59-98)

    A bouquet appears, perhaps toxic like a cognitiveFleurs du Mal,as a cluster of questions: What does it mean to write history? What does it mean to write? What is writing? What is the body of writing that we read? What body is being written, marked, figured by and through writing? How is the body written before it can engage in the act of writing?

    What story is being written in history, and what history is written in the production of stories? The Frenchhistoire,combining the English “story” and “history” in a single word, pre figures the theoretical...

  9. 4 Kyoto/Venezia
    (pp. 99-114)

    Rashomonwas released in Tokyo in August 1950 and went on to win the Grand Prize at the Venice Festival in 1951, and then the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1952. The Film marks a juncture between Film history conceived as an exclusive development of Western Europe and the United States and a world cinema including “non-Western” societies. Japanese Film History, in a sense, “begins” here: not because the West “discovered” Japan, or because Japan first achieved international acclaim, but because previously isolated lines of development from Asia and the West first intersected at this point.

    This juncture...

  10. 5 Reconsidering Humanism
    (pp. 115-163)

    What we now understand as Japanese Film History begins in the 1950s, as an effect of the break marked by such films asRashomon.

    This should not be a surprising assertion, except that it seems to go against the grain of virtually all discourse surrounding the topic of Japanese Film History. Established discourse assumes that we already know when Japanese Film History began, and that beginning can be located with reasonable certainty close to 1900, with Shibata Tsunekichi’sMaple Viewing(Momiji-gari,1898), a strong candidate for the first surviving film produced in Japan by a Japanese filmmaker. An earlier film...

  11. 6 International Modernism
    (pp. 164-198)

    Neither Japanese nor French filmmakers initially appreciated the appellation “New Wave,” which was manufactured by journalists and marketers eager to promote or attack their work. Oshima, for example, felt that the films involved were far too diverse to be reduced to a broad single category, and preferred to emphasize differences among motivations and strategies of representation. Eventually, however, the term became established, like “Cubist” or “Gothic,” for a specific period and group of texts, regardless of its misleading implications. The arbitrariness of this convention, however, should not be forgotten, especially in its ethnocentric assumption that the French initiated innovation, while...

  12. 7 Postmodern Networks
    (pp. 199-237)

    In Japan, a new generation of narrative filmmakers began producing work in the 1980s that seemed to reject the stylistic innovations and self-reflexivity of the so-called Japanese New Wave of the 1960s, and instead returned to a style of character centricity and classical continuity typical of the 1950s period of “humanist” films. This apparent reversal raises questions about the economic and social situation from which this younger generation in Japan produced films, about the periodization of Japanese filmmaking by generational sequence, and about the theoretical context through which we can approach their films. I would like to examine what might...

  13. Epilogue: Next
    (pp. 238-246)

    Japan, film, and history are no longer the indisputable means of organizing media representations that they once were. It has become possible to imagine an “end” of Japanese film history, parallel to other “ends” or transitions around the world. Film ceases to be the dominant medium in society as computers, the Internet, and interactive games emerge as significant media practices. “Japan” begins to be so much a part of the world economy that its cultural productions begin to define entire media niches. A younger generation has now emerged in the United States and Asia that assumes new types of alternative...

  14. Appendix Japanese Networked History: A Metachronology of Culturally Significant Events in Relation to Film
    (pp. 247-262)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 263-272)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-282)
  17. Filmography
    (pp. 283-286)
  18. Distribution Information
    (pp. 287-290)
  19. Index
    (pp. 291-297)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 298-298)