News and Opinion

I am still amazed by those who have the time to maintain a blog. I don't, so the best I can offer here is occasional short bits of news and observations. 

I have disabled comments for this site. If you want to discuss Japanese cinema, please join KineJapan, the list for which I serve as co-owner. 

Finally, a DVD (Actually a Blu-ray) of A Page of Madness Is Out


I published my book on Kinugasa Teinosuke’s silent masterpiece A Page of Madness (狂った一頁, Kurutta ichipeiji, 1926) nearly ten years ago. One of my main regrets is that there has been no DVD of the film available for people to watch as they read my book or as the book is taught in classes. I have written about this before, but the National Film Center in Japan has the best print of the film (one that has been restored to its original silent aspect ratio) and has been trying to put out a DVD for years. Their lack of experience in publishing a DVD and some issues with Kinugasa’s family had long delayed the project. (Until recently, they didn’t even lend out the print because of that problem with the family.) I told them that if they don’t act soon, someone else will put out a DVD, which is what happened with a cut-rate DVD of Kinugasa’s Crossroads (Jujiro, 1928) that came out in 2009.

Well, someone has. And unlike the cheap DVD of Crossroads (which is in fact not that bad), this has actually been produced by a respectable place. The film preservationist David Shepard collaborated with Flicker Alley to put out a Blu-ray disk of A Page of Madness from a good 16mm print (likely from the once-circulating Blackhawk Films collection Shepard bought—this was probably the print I saw in graduate school when I first viewed A Page of Madness). The disk also includes Henwar Rodakiewicz’s Portrait of a Young Man (1925-31). As a bonus, there is an episode of CUNY TV’s "Cinema Then Cinema Now” featuring host Jerry Carlson leading a discussion on the film with psychoanalyst Dr. Harvey Roy Greenberg and film historian Joseph Anderson (not all they say is accurate, but the discussion is interesting nonetheless). As an online extra, Flicker Alley has posted on their site one of my essays on the film, entitled “A Page of Madness: Understanding a Work in its Time," that I penned when I was first writing the book. You can access that here.

Woman Rush Hour and Political Humor in Japan

I like a good laugh, and that is one reason I have always been interested in comedy in Japan. I wrote a book about a comedian turned film director (who didn’t shoot that many comedies), have often sought out comedy films, and even have made going to lots of yose to watch rakugo and manzai one of my goals this year in Japan. I sometimes consider it a challenge to myself, as jokes can in some cases be one of the hardest aspects to understand about a foreign culture, but it also is a way of approaching Japan from a different direction.

The manzai team Woman Rush Hour did an act on TV recently that has made me think about comedy in Japan again.

One difference that observers have noted regarding humor in Japan is the seeming lack of political satire in Japan. Although it seems that comedy in the United States, and in many other countries as well, is dominated by political humor, to the point that such comedy can be more trusted by young people for its political analysis than regular news media, there appears to be virtually none of that in Japan. I’ve read many bad explanations of that, ranging from the old claim (which I in fact encountered when I was younger) that Japanese don’t have much of a sense of humor to the Japanese-supported stereotype that such humor is not welcome in a society focused on harmony. The first is simply a product of orientalist ignorance (anyone who has been to a yose knows that Japanese comedians can be hilarious) and the second just ignores history. In fact, there have been plenty of cases of political humor from the Edo era on. Just listen to Enoken’s amazing “Is This What They Call Freedom?” from 1954—which satirizes American H-bomb tests, the Cold War “peace,” Japan’s subservient relation to the USA, the SDF, and postwar Japanese politics—and you can see there has been very biting political comedy on a popular level from long ago.

The Nichigei Film Festival: Cinema, the Emperor, and The Solitary One


In coming to Japan for this year of research, I was eagerly expecting my first attendance at the Yamagata, Tokyo, and Filmex film festivals in eight years, even if I knew their plusses and minuses. But I was also very pleased to go to a festival that I learned about for the first time: the Nichigei Film Festival, which took place in December.

“Nichigei” stands for the Nihon Daigaku Geijutsu Gakubu, or Nihon University College of Art. The study of film at Nichidai goes back to at least 1929 and has been one of the core courses of the College of Art since it was formed in 1949. The focus has been on production, with such graduates as Ishii Gakuryū, Matsuoka Jōji, Kanai Katsu, and Adachi Masao, although there are also students researching film history. Faculty have included Ushihara Kiyohiko and Tanaka Jun’ichirō.

One of the current professors is Koga Futoshi, who has had a long career starting at the Japan Foundation and continuing with the Asahi Shinbun newspaper. At both, he organized a large number of film events and festivals. He still writes a lot on film (check out his blog) and was a member of the Asahi ratings panel with me at the TIFF. After becoming a professor at Nichigei, Koga has taught a variety of courses, but quite interestingly one for third year students is about film programming. As the main assignment for the course, students have to plan and put on a film festival of their own that will show at a regular commercial theater. This is the Nichigei Film Festival. They start by having each student put together a serious proposal for a festival, from which the best are selected and presented to Eurospace, an art theater in Shibuya, which then selects the one to put on. The students then have to arrange for renting the films, creating a catalog, arranging for advertising, and inviting guests. They then have to run the week-long festival once it starts.

TOKYO FILMeX 2017 and the Independent Cinema Guild

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Fall is the main film festival season in Japan (see my reports on this year's YIDFF and TIFF editions here, here, and here), but not all festivals are the same. Yamagata, of course, focuses on documentary (though the definition of documentary is flexible enough to allow for a wide variety of films), and the Tokyo Film Festival aims at being the Japanese edition of Cannes.

TIFF doesn’t succeed at that, which is why festivals such as Tokyo Filmex have stepped in to fill some of the gaps. Filmex is much smaller in comparison to TIFF, but it purposely avoids the big commercial films that TIFF is happy to show, concentrating instead on mostly independent films. Asia is largely the focus, and only a choice few Japanese films get shown. One exception has been the retrospective section. If the Tokyo Film Festival has largely abandoned the role a major festival has in celebrating the history of cinema, by eliminating or stripping down its retrospective sidebar, Filmex took it over and did wonderful series on lesser known masters such as Uchida Tomu, Okamoto Kihachi, and Kawashima Yuzo (I penned a piece on Kawashima for their catalog). In recent years, it has even started Tokyo Talents, which aims to help young Asian filmmakers develop their projects; the International Critics Forum, a workshop for budding film critics; as well as seminars in translation and other aspects of film. 

Tokyo International Film Festival 2017: Japanese Films

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In my last report (a little bit too long ago), I talked about my experience serving on the ratings panel at the 2017 Tokyo International Film Festival for the Asahi newspaper. Because I had to watch all fifteen Competition films I had much less time to view new Japanese movies than I hoped. Nevertheless, I did catch a number of interesting films, although the average level of the Japanese product I saw was disappointingly not that high.

First, there were two Japanese films in the Competition: Zeze Takahisa’s The Lowlife and Ooku Akiko’s Tremble All You Want, both of which produced complex but quite different reactions in me. With a background in pink film, Zeze was in some ways returning to familiar territory with a film about the AV porn industry, but The Lowlife focused on the actresses, having been based on AV actress Mana Sakura’s novel. Its boldest, yet clearly most controversial challenge, was the decision not to pursue the question of why these women appear in AV. I could agree with that, since the question itself is problematic, since it frequently revolves around social prejudices against sexuality that are not equally applied to men: people will obsess over why a woman appears in AV, but not over why a man does. Zeze instead focuses on the relationships of the women, with delicate portrayals that in the end emphasize female connections in the family. I ultimately liked the film, though some colleagues hated it and considered it no better than an AV film. I instead thought it consciously deviated from both AV and pink, in terms of narrative (the only spontaneous off-set sex in the film is a failure) and camera style (using shallow focus against the pan focus of AV), but I did recognize that with at least one woman (the older married woman Ayako), there was the danger that the hinted motivations hewed a bit too closely to the MILF genre in porn.

Tokyo International Film Festival 2017 and the Asahi “Katte ni Grand Prix” Award


As with YIDFF 2017, this was my first Tokyo International Film Festival in eight years. I have never been that much of a fan of the TIFF, and often criticized it back when I was writing for the Daily Yomiuri (even my report in 2009 was largely critical). The TIFF was too close to the industry to have a truly independent selection, was becoming more of a contents market, and has largely abandoned its Japanese retro section, even though that should be a major role of supposedly the largest film event in Japan. Its insistence on being in the same category as Cannes and Venice means its competition will only show world premieres, even though most of the major films have been taken by more famous festivals. Still, its Asian section is well done (programmed by Ishizaka Kenji, who was on the Nihon eiga wa ikite iru editorial board with me), and the Japan Splash sidebar can occasionally introduce a good, unknown new Japanese film.

The TIFF 2017, which was its 30th edition, ended up being an opportunity to see the festival in a new light. It didn’t start off well when the festival rejected my press application, even though I applied on the same conditions as the last time (the TIFF does not accredit film academics, like the YIDFF or FILMeX do). But at the last minute, Ishitobi Noriki of the Asahi Shinbun contacted me about participating in their ratings panel. The “hoshitorihyo" is something they started last year: a panel of five experts watches all the films in the TIFF Competition, rates them, and writes short reviews, which appear on the online version of the Asahi (you can see them here; click on the film to see the reviews). The new results are uploaded every day during the festival. This year the panel was Hata Sahoko (a film critic and the person who bought Godard’s Breathless for Japan—and thought up its great Japanese title: Katte ni shiyagare), Sugino Kiki (a film director and actress), Koga Futoshi (a film programmer and professor at Nihon University), Ishitobi, and myself. 

Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2017

Even though I once worked for the YIDFF, this year’s festival was my first since 2009, so my first impression one of nostalgia. Seeing the same old places, meeting old friends, drinking at Komian, basking in the intellectual atmosphere of the festival. This year’s festival had many great moments, but I also felt the YIDFF also needs to look back a bit more at the past.

I had some obligations, especially helping my wife a little at the Daily Bulletin (I penned a short piece for them looking back on its history, since I worked there during the 1993 festival). So I couldn’t see everything I wanted to. I saw a few non-Japanese films, and was particularly impressed with John Gianvito’s Wake (Subic) (which shows some significant influence from Tsuchimoto Noriaki’s work) and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, but I focused mostly on Japanese films. Unfortunately, there weren’t many that thrilled me.

Possibly the most interesting were Yamashiro Chikako’s works, The Beginning of Creation/A Child and A Woman of the Butcher Shop, which were showing in New Asian Currents (which I programmed back in 1995). Both were originally installation pieces and would be hard to call documentary under a traditional definition (Yamashiro-san told me this was in fact the first time her works had been shown in a movie theater). The first was a record of Kawaguchi Takeo’s effort to literally draw out and emulate Ohno Kazuo’s dance; the second a more narrative exposition of gender and occupation in Okinawa (I have to keep this in mind if I ever update my article on representations of Okinawa). While both exhibit a strong, and often political concern for the body, if not also a desire to return to origins (the sea, the same cave in both), the two are also very aware of mediation, to the point of thinking about the materiality of digital video.

Early Cinema in Asia and One Print in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


One of the favorites among the articles I have written is “One Print in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” a piece I wrote for the online peer-reviewed film journal Screening the Past. In it I tried to come to grips with one of the oddities that tends to define early cinema in Japan: the fact that for much of the silent period, film studios only produced one print of the movies they made, even though they had technology to produce many more. In a play on one of the translations of the title of Walter Benjamin’s famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, I was asking why the Japanese film world seemed to be shunning the definition of cinema as an art of mechanical reproduction.

The article was also an opportunity for me to engage in various methodologies. Basically, this was an exercise in industrial history, but I put forward and tested various hypotheses about the reasons for this practice, starting with the economic, but then proceeding to issues of society, politics, and culture. It was a way to start thinking about the material versus cultural determinations of Japanese cinema—or our inability to separate them. It also provided me with an early opportunity to talk about the culture of “mixture” I elaborated on in Visions of Japanese Modernity, and which Miriam Silverberg described in different terms in Erotic Grotesque Nonsense. While I don’t think it is one of my best essays, it was one I enjoyed writing and still think is important.

When You Appear on Wikipedia

I noticed this a few weeks ago, but it seems there is now an article about me on the English language Wikipedia. Here is the original and here is a screenshot:

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Having dabbled a bit on Wikipedia, I know there are notability standards for whether some person (or thing) gets an article, so I feel a bit honored that someone thought me notable enough. (No, I did not write it myself!) Looking at the history, I can see there was actually a bit of a squabble over notability when it first appeared, but that seems to have settled down. (You never know, though, whether someone will still not nominate it for deletion.) I also see that someone first created it a couple of years ago and it languished in the Draft space on Wikipedia for a long time, so it was clearly not a shoo-in on the encyclopedia. 

As with anything written about me, I am somewhat embarrassed about the whole thing and don’t really want to read it. But it does seem they get a few things wrong. I don’t still contribute to the Eigei Best Ten and I long ago ceased writing reviews for the Daily Yomiuri (which no longer exists, by the way, at least under that name). Yet it does seem someone does know my work enough to offer a decent description of Visions of Japanese Modernity.

Japan, TV Dramas and Film Theory

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This post is just a personal note.

As some of you know, I am now in Japan. That’s not unusual, because I spend every summer in this country. But this time I will be here for a year, the first full year I will spend in Japan since 2009-2010. I have taken advantage of one term of earned leave from Yale and combined it with a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (see my page here) to give me twelve months (plus a bit more) in Japan to do research and writing. It will also be nice to experience Japanese falls, and springs, and Oshogatsu. I’ll also do a little traveling to Kansai and other spots.

The main plan is to finish my book on the history of Japanese film theory. I’ve done a lot of research, as well as presented aspects of it on multiple occasions (herehere, here, here, here, here, here, etc.), but there is still research that needs to be done in Japan. I also need the time to write it all up. 

So even though I will be in Japan, I will mostly be in libraries or at home writing. But I do intend to go out once in a while to watch movies and attend special events. I will definitely be at the Yamagata Film Festival, and will try to attend others festivals like Tokyo FilmEx. I may also give a talk here and there. 

Media Theory in Japan, Television, and the Forgetting of Film


I have a piece out in new anthology from Duke entitled Media Theory in Japan. It is edited by Alex Zahlten of Harvard and Marc Sternberg of Concordia, and is based in an intense workshop that took place at Harvard in November 2013. Their project parallels mine: if I have been endeavoring to bring to light the history of film theory in Japan, they have been doing the same for media theory. One sign that the two intersect is the fact that they chose one of the pieces I selected for the “Decentering Theory” special issue to include in their anthology: Kitada Akihiro great essay on Nakai Masakazu’s theory of media.

The Duke anthology includes essays by Yuriko Furuhata, Takeshi Kadobayashi, Marilyn Ivy, Miryam Sas, Tomiko Yoda, Ryoko Misono (sadly, a posthumous contribution), Anne McKnight, Fabian Schäfer, Keisuke Kitano, and Tom Looser on such topics as the Tange Lab, Azuma Hiroki, McLuhan in Japan, Nancy Seki, Rokudenashiko, Kobayashi Hideo, and the Kyoto School. 

My contribution was placed at the beginning, in part because it questions the concept of new media through a historical analysis of some early theories of television in Japan. If, as Lev Manovich as argued, new media often repeat older media, my essay considers how new media theory can repeat that of older media. Focusing on one of the groundbreaking moments in development of television theory in Japan—the 1958 issue of Shisō devoted to the new medium—and in particular the ideas of its central figure, the sociologist Shimizu Ikutarō, I note how claims about television’s unique relation to the everyday forgot similar claims about cinema’s relation to the mundane made decades before by Gonda Yasunosuke and others. I argue that such forgetting functioned in part to repress the historical politics of the everyday, or more specifically, the history of media’s relationship with the everyday. In the end, the debate over the everyday was not just about which media was closer to the everyday or what constituted the mediated everyday, but also about the relation of theory to the everyday—the everydayness of theory.

Matsumoto Toshio dies at age 85


Matsumoto Toshio (松本俊夫), a major figure in postwar Japanese cinema and film theory, passed away on 12 April 2017 at the age of 85. This is a great shock to me, not only because of his immense contributions to Japanese film and image culture, but also because of all the help he provided for my career.

Matsumoto-san is of course well known for his work as a feature film director, with Funeral Parade of Roses (the photo at the right is of him in the film) and Dogura Magura being two of his most famous works. He started out in documentary, however, joining Shin Riken after studying aesthetics at the University of Tokyo. It was through documentary that I first came to know him. In 1993, the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival did a retrospective of Japanese documentaries of the 1960s, curated by Yasui Yoshio of Planet, which featured four of Matsumoto-san’s films: Nishijin (1961), The Song of Stones (1963), Mothers (1967), and For My Crushed Right Eye (1968). One of my first tasks for the YIDFF was translating much of the retro catalog, so I first read Matsumoto before seeing his works. While Mothers was the least interesting of the four, his exploration of the image—from the still photographs of The Song of Stones to the multi-projector For My Crushed Right Eye—stood out amid the documentary of the time. 

Nakadai Tatsuya Interview on FilmStruck


This is just a short post, but I wanted to let you know that an on-camera interview I did for Criterion with the actor Nakadai Tatsuya is now being shown on Criterion’s streaming service, FilmStruck. We invited Nakadai-san to Yale last fall for a truly wonderful event, but he spent good amount of time in New York City before and after Yale. It was about a week after his Yale visit that I went down to NYC to do the interview at the Criterion office. My task was to ask Nakadai-san about his experiences with working with five directors whose films Criterion handles: Kurosawa Akira, Kobayashi Masaki, Naruse Mikio, Okamoto Kihachi, and Teshigahara Hiroshi. I’m not that experienced at these things, but Nakadai-san was full of wonderful stories and the Criterion crew made it (including me) look good.

You have to subscribe to FilmStruck to see it in full, but you can see a snippet featuring Nakadai-san talking about the famous duel at the end of Kurosawa's Sanjuro here on the Criterion site.

Ogino Shigeji, Ofuji Noburo, and Classic Japanese Animation

Even the BBC has reported on this, so the news has spread that the National Film Center in Japan, in collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs and other institutions, has opened the website Japanese Animated Film Classics to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Japanese animation. The site features 64 pre-WWII animated films that can be viewed in full, some with English subtitles. (Right now, the site itself is only in Japanese, though an English site is supposed to be opened soon.) 

Naturally, the site offers a number of important works, starting with Kouchi Jun’ichi’s The Dull Sword (Namakura-gatana), which is counted as one of the first three Japanese-made animated films released in 1917. Kitayama Seitaro, who directed one of the other two (which are not extant), is partially represented through one of his 1918 works, Urashima Taro. Other animators featured include such greats as Masaoka Kenzo, Yamamoto Sanae, and Murata Yasuji. I was particularly happy to see Seo Mitsuyo’s Arichan the Ant (1941) included, since that is not only another example of the work of the director of the two, greatly celebrated wartime Momotaro films, but also reportedly the first use of the multiplanar camera in Japan. 

Globalism, New Media, and Cinematically Imagining the Inescapable Japan


For a long time I have been wondering about a recurring theme in Japanese cinema: the seeming inability of Japanese to escape Japan. Characters contemplate or even actively try to leave Japan but are stopped at the border, sometimes even dying on the beach. This is not necessarily new—one of Yoshida Kiju’s films was even called Escape from Japan (Nihon dasshutsu, 1964)—but I especially noticed it in films from the 1990s. Kitano Takeshi or Miike Takashi often had characters dying at limits of national territory. Aoyama Shinji’s Helpless featured a character mentioning an episode of The Prisoner, in which Number 6 flees the Village only to be returned there—as if implying that Japan itself is the Village. And Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s Barren Illusion (Oinaru gen'ei, 1999) even had a character travel all the way to the airport so as to leave the country, go to the check-in counter, and end up being ignored, forcing her to return.

This, however, is the age of globalism, when national borders are breaking down, goods and people constantly cross boundaries, and the nation itself is under question. How can there be so many representations of Japanese unable to leave Japan when Japanese are traveling to other nations all the time?

Cinema and Kawabata Yasunari Studies


When I wrote my book on Kinugasa Teinosuke’s A Page of Madness, I devoted a number of pages to the Nobel Prize winner Kawabata Yasunari’s involvement in the project. Even though I in the end concluded that his involvement was not as great as some had seen, that did not mean that I thought his relation with that film or with cinema in general was insignificant. I had actually published an article in Iris some years before, entitled “Celluloid Masks,” that contrasted Kawabata’s connections to cinema to those of Tanizaki Junichiro, especially in their literature (you can read the full article here). But there was a lot more I could have written about.

I was thus quite pleased to get an invitation in 2014 to participate in a conference in Paris on Kawabata, hosted by Cécile Sakai. It was a great opportunity to revisit Kawabata and complicate the notion prevalent in the scholarship that particularly his early works were “cinematic.” But it was also an excellent chance to connect him to my larger project on the history of Japanese film theory, and explore the possibility of a film theory evoked in his writings, both fictional and non-fictional.

Obayashi Nobuhiko’s Once Seen Movie Theater


It was a great thrill welcoming the illustrious film director Obayashi Nobuhiko to Yale last fall and helping the Japan Society do a long-awaited retrospective of his work. Not only was it wonderful re-encountering his films, but it was an honor getting to know him and his family during his visit to the States. They are truly warm and generous people. When we were back in Japan this summer, they even treated me and my family to some very fine tempura near Futako Tamagawa.

His foreign fans might not know this, but Obayashi is a prolific writer, one who has published over two dozen books. His most recent tome has just been published, and it is huge: a two-volume work totaling 1368 pages! Entitled Itsuka mita eigakan (roughly translated as “Once Seen Movie Theater” or “Theater of Movies I Once Saw”), it is basically a collection of Obayashi’s thoughts on 121 films ranging from Preston Sturges' Sullivan’s Travels to Ozu Yasujiro’s Equinox Flower. The majority of films are foreign, but range in genre from Westerns to films featuring music. A few other essays are included, particularly about war and cinema, and an extra bonus is a DVD entitled “The Truth and Lies of John Wayne.”

Aaron Gerow’s old papers

I don’t like titles with my own name in them, but this is both accurate and more conducive to web searches. 

For a while I’ve been wondering about what to do with my old papers and articles. Having published for over 25 years, I have a large number of them, some of which are in now out-of-print books, obscure journals, or film festival catalogs that were never intended for wide distribution. I was not always particular about where I published—for instance only thinking about “tenure-able” venues—and always believed that academics should be instructive where they can in multiple platforms. But in trying to reach out to many audiences, some of my writing has been caught in the ephemerality of much publishing. While I don’t intend to assert my scholarship deserves world-wide attention, I still hope some of it can be of help to both film fans and scholars, which it can’t if it is unavailable or not readily available.

That’s why I’ve decided to start making available some of my old papers and articles on a couple of internet platforms. The first is the Yale section of Bepress, an open access platform. The second is I am more comfortable with the former, since, despite its educational name, is a for-profit company, but I thought using multiple platforms means more availability. 

Yale University Welcomes Nakadai Tatsuya


Our big Japanese film event at Yale this fall is a visit by the illustrious actor, Nakadai Tatsuya, on October 27-28, 2016. One of my favorites since high school, I am thrilled with the opportunity to welcome him to Yale and talk to him about his work. We’ll show two of his films, with Q&A—Harakiri (Kobayashi Masaki, 1962) and Age of Assassins (Okamoto Kihachi, 1967). He will also do two talk sessions with a smaller audience that are by registration only. He’ll also be catching some theater while he’s here.

This year is the centennial of the birth of Kobayashi Masaki, with whom Nakadai made some of his best films. He thus insisted on doing at least one Kobayashi film. We talked at first about doing two, but he was intrigued about doing an Okamoto film, so that’s the second one.

Nakadai will also do some events in New York, but we hope people can make the trek to New Haven to catch Nakadai in a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

I’ve met him a couple of times in preparation for the event—which itself was a thrill!—and I was so impressed with what a charming and wonderful human being he is. At 84 years old, he still works full-time and runs his own acting school/troupe called Mumeijuku. He’s acted in so many media and had a career spanning seven decades, so there is so much he can share with us.

Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Dis/continuity, and the Ghostly Ethics of Meaning and Auteurship


Kurosawa Kiyoshi has long been one of my favorite filmmakers, but one I’ve found very hard to talk about. Perhaps that difficulty is one reason I like him so much: his films resist our ability to comfortably confine them in words, and challenge our systems of knowledge and perception. That’s one reason they are so attractive but also so frightening.

That’s also why I have always been at somewhat of a loss when I encounter articles on Kurosawa that profess to know him or his works through some allegorical, postmodern, or ecocritical methodology. There’s a lot we can learn about Kurosawa from such articles, but it still stikes me that many of them were less watching his films in their complexity than imposing their interpretations. And given that Kurosawa’s films are populated with detectives and detective-like figures whose interpretations are problematic, that approach can be self-defeating, if not blind to what’s going on in the films. They effectively offer comfort against a set of films that are fundamentally disturbing.

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