A Brief History of Postwar Japanese Cinema

This post is based on a presentation I put together for Dr. Michael DeAngelis‘ Cinema of Peace class that was taught at DePaul University during the winter 2013 quater. It is simply meant to serve as a brief introduction into the history of postwar Japanese cinema, and is in no way comprehensive. Any factual errors are mine and mine alone, and I welcome any and all corrections, along with any other feedback you wish to provide. Thank you.

POSTWAR JAPANESE CINEMA: REMEMBRANCE, UNDERSTANDING, AND THE PAINFUL ART OF HEALING

INTRODUCTION

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II were atrocities that would have lasting effects upon the nation of Japan and its people for decades afterward. According to Clif Ganyard, “Japan is still the only nation to have experienced a nuclear attack and so it is really the first and only post-nuclear, post-apocalyptic society.” Similarly, Mick Broderick (1996) asserts that “Hiroshima and Nagasaki evoke powerful and sombre associations of holocaust and apocalypse, a microcosm of the twentieth century’s staging ground for a global nuclear war” (p. 2). This becomes evident when looking at Japan’s national cinema; movies produced in Japan often explore the trauma that resulted from the atomic bomb attacks, even when they aren’t explicitly about the event. This post will serve as a a brief examination of Postwar Japanese cinema, with a particular focus on the themes of remembrance, understanding and healing that have been evident in Japanese films since around the end of World War II in 1945.

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Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Female Sexuality in Spirited Away, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Coraline

This is an edited transcript of a presentation I gave at the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference that took place Oct 11-13 in St. Louis, MO.  I am currently in the early stages of revising it for publication, and hope to start sending it out to journals early next year.  As always, I welcome any and all feedback and comments on the ideas presented within. Also, because this paper is incomplete and not currently published in any journals, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, INTO THE FALLOPIAN TREE, AND THROUGH THE VAGINAL TUNNEL: FANTASY, FAIRY TALES, AND FEMALE SEXUALITY IN SPIRITED AWAY, PAN’S LABYRINTH AND CORALINE

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865), the films Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001), Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006), and Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009) all feature stories in which young girls enter a new world of adult responsibilities and concerns, and are guided on their journeys through these worlds by an older male character. All three films use fairy tales and fantasy tropes to explore the various challenges and opportunities faced by the female protagonists as they navigate both their emergent sexuality, and the tensions that exist between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

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