2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

Japanese Film: Characteristics and Aesthetic Tradition

Last Updated: 11/17/2008

Fall and Winter quarters

Faculty: Setsuko Tsutsumi comparative literature, Japanese studies

Major areas of study include film study, Japanese literature and theater and Japanese arts.

Class Standing: Sophomores or above; transfer students welcome.

This program will not be accepting new students winter quarter.

This program will explore the aesthetic tradition of Japanese film. Japanese film originally developed as an extension of the stage performance, not as a continuation of still photography or pictures as in the West. Disregard of any claims of realism became an undertaken strategy in the traditional Japanese theater, thus by extension in film as well. How do these ideas represent themselves in films? In developing the drama, Japanese films don't rely on the story or plots but on consistency of evoked emotion and suggestions to their viewer's free imagination. They create layers of imagery and emotions through chains of suggestions, intensifying the emotional level at each step to develop the drama to climactic moments.

Throughout the program, we will examine the processes and techniques that Japanese films use to develop drama to climactic moments. We will explore the ways they make the story more real without being confined by the rules of reality. We will also examine their framing and compositional techniques, which press the viewer on to seek suggestions of the greater world beyond the confines of the screen.

In fall, we will first study the theory and aesthetics of three major forms of traditional Japanese theater: Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku. We will also explore unique forms of Japanese visual arts such as narrative scrolls and ukiyoe woodblock prints. We will then analyze works of three major Japanese directors, focusing on the artistic tradition they exhibit in their works: Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956), Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963), and Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), who, though diverse in style and choice of material, have each contributed to establishing Japan’s current place in world cinema. We will make a close examination of their subject matters, artistic presentations, and cinematographic techniques in order to define what makes each director different and uniquely Japanese.

In winter, we will examine films by more contemporary directors. We will see how traditions were succeeded or changed in their works and whether they still convey a strong sense of "Japaneseness" in the rapidly growing global culture.

Through our study of film, we will also examine the social transformations which have taken place during the past 60 years in Japan, particularly in the areas of family structure, women’s roles, sense of morality, aesthetic sensibility and the Japanese sense of self.

Students who wish to pursue Japanese language studies while taking this program may negotiate a 12 credit option. Please consult with the faculty after registering initially for 16 credits.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 25

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in Japanese literature and arts, and film study.

Planning Units: Culture, Text and Language

Program Revisions

Date Revision
November 17th, 2008 Restriction against joining program winter quarter added.