The Japanese Period Film

A Critical Analysis

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About the Book

This study examines the history of the Japanese period film and proposes that a powerful relationship exists between the past and present in Japan’s narrative tradition. The first section of the book analyzes the form and function of the Japanese period film, describing the unique iconography and characteristics of films set in the past. The author also examines how the period film has allowed Japanese filmmakers to circumvent government censorship by serving as a rhetorical device with which they can explore contemporary concerns through a criticism of the past. The final section of the book contains chapters that focus on the narrative in Japanese epic, religion, theater, and modern popular literature. A complete filmography and bibliography are included.

About the Author(s)

S.A. Thornton is an associate professor of history at Arizona State University.

Bibliographic Details

S.A. Thornton

Foreword by Donald Richie

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 263
Bibliographic Info: 29 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3136-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9216-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Donald Richie      1
Introduction     3

PART ONE: THE NARRATIVE SET IN THE PAST
1. The Japanese Period Film      11
2. The Japanese Period Piece      27
3. The Japanese Hero      50
4. Sixteenth Century Japan in Film      86
5. The Yakuza Film      94

PART TWO: REALISM IN THE NARRATIVE
6. The Shinkokugeki and the Zenshinza: Western Representational Realism and the Japanese Period Film      109
7. Historical Realism      116
8. From Stage Realism to Film Realism      126

PART THREE: THE SCENE IN JAPANESE NARRATIVE
9. Thematic Composition, Formulaic Diction and Cinema      141
10. The Japanese Epic as Buddhist Sermon      149
11. Thematic Composition in the Japanese Epic: On the Type Scene      161
12. Traditional Narrative and Yamada YÉji      173

Chapter Notes      203
Filmography      227
Bibliography      237
Index      247

Book Reviews & Awards

“Author’s knowledge is impressive…recommended”—Choice

“One of the most detailed and insightful”—Asia Pacific Arts