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Searching for a Third Way: Mizoguchi Kenji's Sisters of the Gion and Kamei Fumio's Shanghai as Responses to Early- to Mid-20th Century Japanese Imperialism

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During the early part of the 20th Century, the world was in a volatile state. Shifting loyalties and power games, fueled by fallout from the World War I in the West, had spread to Asia and sat firmly at the forefront of international relations; colonialism had become a major part of many nations' foreign policies. It was into this morass that directors Mizoguchi Kenji and Kamei Fumio waded. Mizoguchi Kenji's 1936 film Gion no Shimai, or Sisters of the Gion, suggested that Japan's options were not limited to the extreme dichotomy of submission or aggression, and that perhaps there was a third way out that necessitated neither capitulation to Western imperialism nor the colonization of other nations. Meanwhile, Kamei Fumio shocked censors and astute audiences in 1938 with Shanghai, a subtle but scathing denouncement of Japanese imperialist aspirations in China.
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Keywords: Kamei Fumio; Mizoguchi Kenji; WW1; Westernization; globalization; nationalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Royal Holloway, University of London

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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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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