Japanese Transnational Cinema: From Kurosawa to Asia Extreme and Studio Ghibli
- Course Code:
- Unit value:
- Year of study:
- Year 1 or Year 2
- Taught in:
- Term 1
Objectives and learning outcomes of the course
The objectives of the course are to encourage students:
- To develop an awareness of contemporary Japanese cinema as part of an international network of financial organisations and not just an isolated aesthetic phenomenon.
- To develop an understanding of the dynamics of the international ‘art house’ cinema circuit and its relation to issues of ‘taste’ and ‘cultural capital’.
- To realise that audiences and ‘identity’ are in part manufactured through marketing strategies.
By the end of the course, students will have developed the following:
- A firm understanding of the interconnectedness of the cinematic aesthetic and the film industry in the age of global finance - changes in industrial structures produce textual effects.
- An understanding of the fluid nature of ‘art house’ auteur cinema as a concept defined primarily by marketing agencies (in the contemporary industry), but historically by critics and audiences in the 1950s and 1960s.
- The conceptual tools and vocabulary with which to analyse critically (not just narrate or describe) a body of film texts from the contexts of their production and reception.
- To engage critically with existing theoretical paradigms and pursue their own particular research interests.
- To identify key research agendas in the study of Cinema in the age of globalisation.
Scope and syllabus
The course is effectively divided into three segments focusing on the export of Kurosawa Akira’s jidaigeki films in the 1960s and their impact on domestic productions and the emergence of the cruel-jidaigeki films, the action and horror films of the Asia Extreme ‘imprint’, and finally, Japanese animation.
Japanese Transnational Cinema replaces the first term MA course, Japanese Cinema: an Historical Survey 1896-1952 (15 PMS H002), which was originally designed for the MA Japanese Area Studies programme. Japanese Transnational Cinema, while still being relevant to Japanese Area Studies and Art students, seeks to extend the discussion to incorporate contemporary trends in the international film industry (such as marketing and distribution) thus giving Area Studies and Art students a point of contextualisation outside domestic production and reception, while providing a specific case study in media flows for students registered on media focussed degrees. As marketing and distribution strategies are often gender specific in the audiences targeted, the course should still have relevance for students on the Gender Studies degree.
Structure and Syllabus: The course is effectively divided into three segments over a ten week teaching term:
Weeks 1 – 3, in these weeks we will examine early attempts by the Japanese film industry to gain international recognition and win ‘cultural capital’ through the international ‘art house’ circuit and at prestigious film festivals. At an aesthetic level, the focus will be on the Toho Studios and the films of Kurosawa Akira and his incorporations of western Hollywood genre techniques into the period drama (jidaigeki).
Weeks 4 – 7, in these weeks we shall focus on the Tartan Video Asia Extreme ‘imprint’ which has effectively established a fan-(boy) cult following in western markets. In the international DVD distribution market, Asia Extreme has industrial links to the Japanese ‘direct to Video market’, the internationalisation of the Korean cinema market in the 1990s, and to a lesser extent Hong Kong cinema. At an aesthetic level films from the horror genre (the Ring cycle) and the cross-over Japanese Korean action/gangster genre will be explored.
Weeks 8 – 10, will look at animation from the early success of Akira, shown at the London ICA in the late-1980s, to the internationalisation of the animation films produced by Studio Ghibli. This discussion will be framed from within the context of the Japanese Government’s policy to promote ‘cool Japan’ as per the white paper Digital Contents Hakushō (2005).
Method of assessment100% Coursework (5,000 word Essay).
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