National Cinema and Culture: Radical Japanese Cinema

Course Details
FILM 168
Academic Year: 

As a globally-celebrated national cinema, Japanese film is often treated as essentially radical or unique due to presumed industrial, cultural, or formal differences from Western standards of movie production and consumption.  However, examples of truly radical (independent, non-commercial, non-narrative, abstract, or politically challenging) film in Japan can be very difficult to access and address in foreign˙ or non-Japanese language contexts.  This course sets away from the canonical films of Ozu, Kurosawa, and major studio auteurs to reveal more dimensions of film form and content in postwar Japan.  Focusing on titles made around and after the "season of politics" of the late 1960s and early 1970s, this class explores some of the other modes, industries, and genres of this extremely diverse national cinema.  Radical Japanese Cinema encourages students to critically engage with films that deliberately challenge the boundaries of representation - representations of story, identity, gender, politics, cinema, light, and Japan itself - as a way to understand and test theories of national cinema without essentializing or reducing Japanese film or the Japanese nation to a kind of homogenized global alternative.  

This course satisfies an upper-division elective for the Film and Digital Media major as well as the diversity requirement specific to the major.