Censorship of Japanese Films During the U.S. Occupation of Japan: The Cases of Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa

Author: Sorensen, Lars-Martin
Year:2009
Pages:356
ISBN:0-7734-4673-7
978-0-7734-4673-1
Price:249.95
Very few English-language books have focused exclusively upon the occupation period and its effects on cinema. This book investigates how Japanese fiction films produced during the American occupation 1945-1952 subverted occupation film censorship. It is based on extensive archival research and the primary focus is on the films of Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa.

Reviews

“How did Japanese filmmakers react to CI&E/CCD’s program of censorship? Lars-Martin Sorensen provides a provocative answer. He argues that many filmmakers sought out subtle forms of resistance, oblique ways of countering or questioning the censors and the larger project of the occupation that lay behind them. By offering this interpretation of cinema during the occupation, Sorensen gives us a new cultural history of the period.” – Prof. Stephen Prince, Virginia Tech

“The book not only provides an important corrective to the prevailing understanding of two of the most important figures in the Japanese cinema, calling attention to aspects of Ozu’s and Kurosawa’s film-making that previous writers have overlooked or misunderstood; it also offers a useful model for scholars interested in pursuing archival research. It is particularly relevant to the study of cinemas operating under strong political censorship, whether run by an occupying power or a totalitarian regime, and it thus has relevance to many areas of film history and cultural studies, not only the study of the Japanese cinema.” – Prof. Casper Tybjerg, University of Copenhagen

“Lars-Martin Sorensen takes the dictum of movie content-cum-reception seriously; meaning is not only inherent in films; it is made by people at specific moments in time. As a consequence, we are first offered a detailed analysis of the interpretive framework and contextual setting of Japanese viewers during the American occupation. Hence we are offered an explication of individual film works. The latter is anchored in meticulous research of censorship documents.” – Prof. Lisbeth Clausen, Copenhagen Business School

Table of Contents

Foreword by Stephen Prince
Acknowledgements
1. Introduction
Sources and structure of this volume
Aims and methods
The ‘180-degree thesis’
Historical and theoretical perspectives
Occupation film studies
2. Framing the occupied mindset: the core audience
The audience – age, sex and profession
Schooling
Military training
The news media
Film
The case of Japan in Time of Crisis
Indoctrinating associations
The user’s perspective
Internalization or public transcript?
Perspectives for the analysis of the occupied cinema
The key models
3. Players in the arena of censorship
The practices of censorship
CI&E and CCD, cooperation and conflict
The ‘opening hours’: popular sentiment mirrored?
Ways and means of subversiveness
The transition to Japanese censorship
4. Directing the national family: the occupation films of Yasujiro Ozu
Ozu studies: A question of style
A sustained critique
Ozu’s wartime films
Record of a Tenement Gentleman
A Hen in the Wind
A pilot balloon for Late Spring?
Late Spring
Contemporary critical response
Synopsis
Manuscript
The film versus the scenario
A structure of places
Characterization by means of beverages, food, and seating
Repetitions and differences
5. No regrets for whose youth?: the occupation films of Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa and wartime censorship
Ambiguous wartime collaboration?
Father-son relationships on and off screen
Hard work as the best patent of nobility
Kurosawa’s occupation films: an overview
No Regrets for our Youth
Plotline
Factual background for the fiction
A democratization film?
The use of history
Cinematic duplicity
Drunken Angel
The plotline of the censored film
The synopsis
The first manuscript
The revised script and the film
The birth of a new motif
Westernization as denunciation
Administering the dos and don’ts
The audience
A tug-of-war
Stray Dog
The synopsis
Yoshimoto’s analysis
Viewing Stray Dog
The third way
Rashomon: an interpretation
Recontextualizing the reception
Adaptation, adjustments, and allusions
6. Narrowing the concentric circles: results and perspectives
Results
Why this late?
Sameness and difference
Bibliography
Index