The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema

The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema

Daisuke Miyao

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0822354225

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this revealing study, Daisuke Miyao explores "the aesthetics of shadow" in Japanese cinema in the first half of the twentieth century. This term, coined by the production designer Yoshino Nobutaka, refers to the perception that shadows add depth and mystery. Miyao analyzes how this notion became naturalized as the representation of beauty in Japanese films, situating Japanese cinema within transnational film history. He examines the significant roles lighting played in distinguishing the styles of Japanese film from American and European film and the ways that lighting facilitated the formulation of a coherent new Japanese cultural tradition. Miyao discusses the influences of Hollywood and German cinema alongside Japanese Kabuki theater lighting traditions and the emergence of neon commercial lighting during this period. He argues that lighting technology in cinema had been structured by the conflicts of modernity in Japan, including capitalist transitions in the film industry, the articulation of Japanese cultural and national identity, and increased subjectivity for individuals. By focusing on the understudied element of film lighting and treating cinematographers and lighting designers as essential collaborators in moviemaking, Miyao offers a rereading of Japanese film history.

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Hollywood technology and techniques to Japan in the early 1930s. In Journal of Wandering (Horoki, Kimura Sotoji, 1935), the second film that Mimura photographed at PCL, his signature lighting, which critics called “subtle high key” or “soft tones,” was clearly visible.260 Even though the narrative follows the early struggling years of the female novelist Hayashi Fumiko (the character's name is Fusako in the film), Mimura maintains the shining three-point lighting on the protagonist, especially

Shochiku's initial goal was to expand its business beyond the national border.44 Even though Shochiku's initial attempts at export failed, the Japanese film industry looked for foreign markets in the 1930s, especially in China, Manchuria, and Korea. In particular, the pure film advocates were well aware of the international popularity of films that depicted such stereotypical Japanese aspects of culture and landscape as geisha girls, hara-kiri, cherry blossoms, and Mt. Fuji in “tales of honor,

hajimeta otoko, 21; Standish, A New History of Japanese Cinema, 32. 65. Kido, “Kicho daiichigen,” 1. In 1956, four years after the postwar occupation ended, Kido rephrased what he had said in 1929: “There are two ways we can view it [art], with a warmth and brightness, or with a feeling of gloom…. But at Shochiku, we try to view human life with a sense of warm aspiration and brightness. In conclusion, the basis of a film must be hope. It must not impart to the spectator a sense of despair. This,

(1919) in 1922 (Hirai, “Soko Nihon eiga satsuei shi 9,” 50). 124. The only exception is a backlit shot at a train station where Namiko waits for Takeo with her father. Takeo does not arrive. Because of the strong sunlight that spotlights the train in the back, Namiko and her father in front are displayed in complete silhouette. This backlit deep space composition, by which this film is barely connected to Kotani's preferred lighting techniques, functions to enhance Namiko's sense of loss and

Katsudo Zasshi 9.2 (February 1923): 134–37. ———. “Eiga ga dekiagaru made (1)” [Until a film is complete (1)]. Kinema Junpo, June 11, 1922, 5. ———. “Ichininmae no satsuei gishi ni naru made” [How to become a mature cinematographer]. Katsudo Kurabu 7.2 (February 1924): 83–86. Kotani, Soichi (Henri). “Nihon no eiga seisaku kai dewa kantoku ni taisuru rikai ga tarinai” [Japanese filmmakers do not understand what a director is]. Katsudo Gaho 6.4 (April 1922): 40–41. Kracauer, Siegfried. From

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