Japanese Classical Theater in Films
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 Ballad of 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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Introduction to Part I
An Embarrassment of Riches The Impact of the Classical Stage on Early Japanese Cinema
The Kabuki Repertoire in Early Japanese Cinema
From the Mid1920s to World War II Moving Away from Kabuki Conventions
Postwar Revival Rendezvous with a Golden Decade
Introduction to Part II
The KabukiBunraku Convention in The Ballad of Narayama
Night Drum Bunraku Irony and Antifeudalism
Double Suicide Domestic Tragedies Classical and Modern
Gonza the Spearman Bunraku and a New Mode of Interpretation
The Classical Spectacle Chushingura and Two Postwar Versions
The Iron Crown Noh into Film
The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan A New Kabuki
Pandemonium Freudian Psychology and the Classical Theater
The Noh Convention in The Throne of Blood and Ran
Kabuki Stage and An Actors Revenge
Soshun Kochiyama ParodyCaricature
The Men Who Tread on the Tigers Tail Parody Rich in Irony
The Crucified Lovers Kabuki Bunraku and Issues of Female Freedom
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actor Akira Kurosawa aragoto Asano audience Ballad of Narayama Benkei benshi Bunraku camera characters Chikamatsu Chushingura classical theater close-up conﬂict contrast conventions dance death demon director Double Suicide drum example female impersonators feudal ﬁgure ﬁlm ﬁnal ﬁnd ﬁrst Fukasaku Gengobei genre ghost gidayu giri and ninjo Gonza hero hero’s husband inﬂuence Iron Crown Japanese cinema jidaigeki Jihei Kabuki Kabuki play Kanjincho Kawakita Memorial Institute Kira Kochiyama Koharu Koman kurogo Kurosawa long shot Lord lovers man’s mask Matsumoto Matsunosuke Onoe medium shot michiyuki Mizoguchi modern Mohei Mokuami Naojiro narrative narrator Noh drama Noh play Noh stage Oishi original Osai Osan Osan’s Otane’s parody performance plot retainers revenge role sacriﬁce samisen samurai Sangoro scene screen self-sacriﬁce sequence sewamono Shimpa Shinoda shogun shows stylistic Tadao Sato takes theatrical theme Throne of Blood tion Tokyo Tomu Uchida Toshio Matsumoto traditional vendetta viewer wife woman Yakuza Yamanaka Yukinojo