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  Wikipedia: Cinema of Japan

Wikipedia: Cinema of Japan
Cinema of Japan
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


The Silent Era

The first film produced in Japan was the short documentary 「芸者の手踊り」 in June of 1899.

The first Japanese performer to appear in a film professionally was the dancer/actress Tokuko Nagai Takagi, who appeared in four shorts for the American-based Thanhouser Company between 1911 and 1914 (source).

Most Japanese cinema theatres at the time employed benshi, narrators whose dramatic readings accompanied the film and its musical score which, like in the West, was often performed live. (See also the books Benshi, Japanese Silent Film Narrators, and their Forgotten Narrative Art of Setsumei A History of Japanese Silent Film Narration by Jeffrey A. Dym and The Benshi--Japanese Silent Film Narrators.)

The 1923 earthquake, the Allied bombing of Tokyo during World War II, as well as the natural effects of time and Japan's humidity on the then more fragile filmstock have all resulted in a great dearth of surviving films from this period.

Some of the most discussed silent films from Japan are those of Mizoguchi Kenji, whose later works (e.g., The Life of Oharu) are still highly regarded today.

The 1930s

Unlike Hollywood, silent films were still being produced in Japan well into the 1930s. Notable talkies of this period include Mizoguchi's Sisters of the Gion and Osaka Elegy (both 1936).

The 1940s

Kurosawa Akira makes his feature film debut with Sugata Sanshiro in 1943.

The 1950s

The Kurosawa Akira-directed Shichinin no Samurai is released in 1954, the same year as Gojira, known to the West (and to Japan from its first sequel on) as Godzilla. Over ten minutes of footage is cut from Godzilla by its American distributor, mostly of wounded civilians in burning cities, evoking the recent Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Daikaiju films were a mainstay of Japanese cinema for well into the 1970s, and are still being made today.

Ozu Yasujiro directs Tokyo Story (Toukyou monogatari) (1953) and Good Morning (Ohayou) (1959).

The 1960s

Technicolor makes its mark. Ichikawa Kon captures the watershed '64 Olympics in his three-hour documentary Tokyo Olympiad (Toukyou Orimpikku; 1965). Nikkatsu fires Suzuki Seijun for "making films that don't make any sense and don't make any money" after his surrealist yakuza flick Branded to Kill (1967).

Tezuka Osamu's Tetsuwan Atomu introduces anime to television and gives the world Astro Boy in 1963.

The 1970s

Oshima Nagisa directs Ai no koriida (In the Realm of the Senses; 1976), a World War II period piece about Abe Sada. Staunchly anti-censorship, he insists the film contain hardcore pornographic material; as a result the exposed film must be shipped to France for processing, and an uncut version of the film has still, to this day, never been shown in Japan.

The 1980s

Miyazaki Hayao adapts his manga Nausicaš of the Valley of Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) into his feature film debut (an anime of the same name) in 1984. Otomo Katsuhiro adapts his manga Akira into a feature-length anime in 1988. Imamura Shohei wins the Golden Palm at Cannes for Narayama Bushiko (Ballad of Narayama; 1982).

The 1990s

Imamura Shohei again wins the Golden Palm (shared with Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami), this time for Unagi (The Eel; 1997), joining Alf Sjöberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Bille August as only the fourth two-time recipient.

2000 and after

Miyazaki Hayao comes out of retirement to direct Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi; 2001), breaking Japanese box office records and winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Actors & Actresses


External Links

See also Anime, History of cinema, Japanese Academy Awards, Japanese television programs, Seiyuu


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
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