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The Production of Modernity in Japanese National Cinema: Shochiku Kamata Style in the 1920s and 1930s

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A recurrent dilemma for studies of Japanese cinema is that many scholars adopt linear, evolutionary narratives derived from the history of the Enlightenment, or in other words, a colonial model of history with the West as the subject and the force of progress.1 Briefly stated, Japanese cinema is seen in these narratives as a belated national cinema following the trajectory of Hollywood in its various stages of development. The discourse on Japanese cinema and its history shares the same failures of the Enlightenment model of history, which universalizes particular cultural experiences according to Western points of reference.2 While recent debates center on the methodological problems of cross-cultural analysis, Japanese cinema studies remain frozen in the past achievements of their canonical texts, increasingly mirroring the general stagnation of the film industry itself.

Keywords: 1920s; 1930s; Japanese cinema; Shochiku Kamata Style; enlightenment; modernity

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 1998

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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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