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Picturing Japaneseness: Monumental Style, National Identity, Japanese Film. By Darrell William Davis. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. 304 pp, with b/w illustrations.

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Picturing Japaneseness is the result of years of research, writing, and conference presentations on a relatively unexplored area of film history: the Japanese films produced between 1936 and 1941. Davis identifies a select group of films which he considers representative of the "monumental style" of that period. This "monumental style," according to the author, can be recognized by certain characteristic hallmarks: an epic sweep, ponderous narrative, long takes [in terms of the duration of a sequence] and long shots [in terms of the distance from the character or object being filmed], and a general mood of reverence and ceremony.

Davis argues strongly for a consideration of this "monumental style" as a celebration and exaltation of traditional Japanese elements that came to the fore because of the relative absence of foreign elements in the film industry of this period.

Keywords: Japanese films; characteristic hallmarks; film history; monumental style; national identity; traditional Japanese

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Case Western Reserve University

Publication date: September 1, 1997

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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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