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Time Frames

Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of History

2006
Author:

Scott Nygren

Time Frames

A bold new approach to Japanese film history set within a global context

Time Frames explores how Japanese film criticism and history has been written before and after Rashomon. Scott Nygren looks at the emergence of video art and anime, highlighting the creative exchange among North American, European, and Asian media. He places Japanese film at the center of this discourse, and, ultimately, reveals its global role as a cultural medium.

Time Frames shows how ever since Rashomon’s stunning appearance in Venice, Japan’s postwar dance with its Western partners has defined, invigorated, and questioned its own culture and that of the West along the way.

Dudley Andrew, Yale University

Until 1951, when Kurosawa’s Rashomon won the Golden Lion award for best film at the Venice Film Festival, Japanese cinema was isolated from world distribution and the international discourse on film. After this historic event, however, Japanese cinema could no longer be ignored.

In Time Frames, Scott Nygren explores how Japanese film criticism and history has been written both within and beyond Japan, before and after Rashomon. He takes up the central question of which and whose Japan do critics and historians mean when reviewing the country’s cinema—an issue complicated by assumptions about cultural purity, Japan’s appropriation of Western ideas and technologies, and the very existence of a West and an Orientalist non-West.

Deftly moving backward and forward from the pivotal 1951 festival, Nygren traces the invention of Japanese film history as a disciplinary mode of knowledge. His analysis includes such topics as the reconfiguration of prewar films in light of postwar recognition, the application of psychoanalytic theory to Japanese art and culture, and the intersection of kanji and cinema. He considers the historical inscription of 1950s Japan as “the golden age of the humanist film,” the identification of a Japanese New Wave and the implications of categorizing Japanese film through analogy to other national cinemas. Bringing the discussion to Japan’s reception of postmodernism, Nygren looks at the emergence of video art and anime and the end of Japanese film history as a meaningful concept in the rise of the Internet and globalization.

Nygren highlights the creative exchange among North American, European, and Asian media, places Japanese film at the center of this discourse, and, ultimately, reveals its global role as a cultural medium, capable of transforming theory.

Time Frames

Scott Nygren is associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Florida.

Time Frames

Time Frames shows how ever since Rashomon’s stunning appearance in Venice, Japan’s postwar dance with its Western partners has defined, invigorated, and questioned its own culture and that of the West along the way.

Dudley Andrew, Yale University

Scott Nygren’s Time Frames is a uniquely erudite, provocative, and rigorously eccentric work that moves within and without the field of Japanese film studies, building an argument simultaneously for and against the possibility of a historiography of Japanese cinema.

Akira Mizuta Lippit, author of Atomic Light (Shadow Optics)

Nygren is to be commended for taking nothing for granted in this study of ‘Japanese film history.’ Not only does he problematic the terms that rubric comprises; he also explores their histories. This book is as much about postcolonialism and Western hegemony as it is about Japanese film and its history.

Choice

Time Frames is an ambitious, complex, and occasionally quirky study.

Journal of Japanese Studies

Expansive and intricate, and certainly provocative.

Journal of Asian Studies

An intriguing, impressive, and original work.

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Time Frames

Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments

Introduction

1 Thresholds
2 Dislocations
3 Incisions
4 Kyoto/Venezia
5 Reconsidering Humanism
6 International Modernism
7 Postmodern Networks

epilogue Next

appendix Japanese Networked History: A Metachronology of Culturally SigniWcant Events in Relation to Film

Notes
Bibliography
Filmography
Distribution Information

Index