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The Shinkokugeki and the Zenshinza: Western Representational Realism and the Japanese Period Film

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The function of a Japanese period piece, in print, on stage, or in film, is to discuss politically sensitive material and, at the same time, to evade government censorship. This is done, as Brandon has demonstrated, by a matching of past and present which places the current issue safely in the past.1 Between 1913 and 1939, the period piece perfected a rhetorical system matching historical periods and current-expressions of anachronistic--"anti-feudal" and "anti-militarist" sentiments derived from foreign sources. In literature, theater, and film, the modern period piece increased its reliance on modern language and foreign models of narrative and characterization, on what we can loosely call Western representational realism.

Keywords: Japanese period piece; Western representational realism; censorship; film; print; theatre

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-08-01

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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