English | 355 pages | ISBN-10: 0838635024 | PDF | 387.45 MB
Important connections between Japan's classical theater and its national cinema have been largely unexplored in the West. Japanese Classical Theater in Films breaks new ground by charting the influence that the three major dramatic genres - Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku - have had on filmmaking. The first part provides historical and cultural background for understanding some of the distinctive features of the impact of the classical theater on the growth of film art. It also surveys how classical plays, such as Chushingura, have continued to enrich the cinema repertoire. The second part presents more detailed analyses with a focus on the director's use of formal properties of the classical theater and the director's adaptation of the play for the screen. Fourteen films chosen for close reading include The Iron Crown, Soshun Kochiyama, and Pandemonium - none of which has been substantially studied outside of Japan before. Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku are the three distinct genres of classical theater that have made Japan's dramatic art unique. The audience steeped in these traditional theatrical forms sees many aspects of stage conventions in Japanese cinema. This intimacy makes the aesthetic/intellectual experience of films more enriching. Japanese Classical Theater in Films aims at heightening such awareness in the West, the awareness of the influence that these three major dramatic genres have had on Japan's cinematic tradition. Using an eclectic critical framework - a solid combination of historical and cultural approaches reinforced with formalist and auteurist perspectives - Keiko I. McDonald undertakes this much needed, ambitious task. Four postwar Japanese films - Kinoshita's The Balladof Narayama, Kurosawa's The Throne of Blood and Ran, and Kinugasa's An Actor's Revenge - are chosen to illustrate the stylistics of the traditional theater as an important source of artistic inspiration. The illustration is followed by comparative analyses of classical plays and their screen versions. McDonald examines how major film directors transform originals in ways that clarify new and individual social, ideological, and philosophical visions. For example, Tadashi Imai's Night Drum, Mizoguchi's The Crucified Lovers, and Shinoda's Gonza: the Spearman are used to highlight the filmmakers' modernist responses to the feudal society portrayed by the playwright Monzaemon Chikamatsu. This first major study devoted to connections between Japan's classical theater and its national cinema answers the basic question about cultural specificity that has always concerned McDonald as a teacher and scholar of Japanese cinema: How does a person coming from the Japanese tradition help the Western audience see a Japanese film for what it is?
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