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Japanese Film Theory and Realism in a Global Frame

, The Woman That Night deserves critical attention. To our surprise, Shōchiku advertised the film with the catchphrase neorealismo (neorearisumo) (see figure 5), nearly a decade before people began using the same phrase to refer to films from post-Fascist Italy. As Anderson and Richie point out, however, this advertisement strategy designated less a radically new approach to cinematic realism than Japanese film producers’ common practice of “searching for foreign words to describe their products and give them class.”2 In fact, it was not the first time that

emphasize the alterity of Japanese film culture in general, Burch went so far as to declare that “the very notion of theory is alien to Japan: it is con- sidered a property of Europe and the West.”2 We should, of course, keep in mind that Burch strategically presented his argu- ment as part of his ideological critique of Hollywood cinema’s mesmerizing capi- talist illusionism. And yet a critique of Burch’s own illusion has also been long overdue, which is why I deliberately illuminate and scrutinize the existence of Japanese theorizations of cinematic realism. Even a

local critic praised as a “monumental work” that “estab- lished a great realism by transforming documentary methods into a new form of creation.”7 Against this backdrop, Iwasaki developed his own account of the history of cinematic realism in Japan. Ozu and Mizoguchi, he maintained, played an impor- tant role in bringing a realistic approach into prewar Japanese cinema, but their works remained either a truthful depiction of everyday life or naturalism, lacking a more subjective and forceful criticism of the contradictions and injustices of capital- ist society

SOURCES AND TRANSLATOR'S NOTES AN AESTHETIC OF REALITY: NEOREALISM (CINEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION) From Esprit, January, 1948 P. 17, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. This school was founded in 1935 under Mussolini. The Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques was founded in Paris in 1943. P. 21, Beaumarchais (1732-1799). Author of The Barber of Seville and Figaro, the latter revealing Beau- marchais' capacity for witty and satirical criticism of French society during the last days of the artcien regime. On the eve

metaphors are well suited to Corwin’s radio broadcasts, which oft en sought to depict the “voice of the people” at the same time that they established an unmis- takably individual authorial style. As we shall see, postwar recording technologies had an infl uence on Corwin’s approach to orchestrating voices. In addition to Bakhtin’s literary theory, Corwin’s use of recording during the late 1940s and early 1950s should be placed in dialogue with theoretical writing on cinematic realism. In several classic essays, André Bazin broke with previous theo- NORMAN CORWIN

outlining the “photographic approach” from which he derives his film theory, Kracauer singles out images from Talbot to Atget that feature abandoned spaces: a broom in an open door, a granite canyon, the empty streets of Paris. In contrast to Steichen’s teeming photographs, then, Kracauer’s cine- matic world can appear strangely depopulated. The aesthetics of cinematic realism, in other words, consist in mechanically reproducing a reality from which the human dimension is always in some measure absent—what Miriam Hansen describes as a “strange, nonanthropocentric

words, we might expect many kinds of devices to fol- low the kind of cinematic trajectory Sobchack maps out for Quicktime. The mobile phone, however, begins to tell a diff erent story, or perhaps it can be used to excavate a diff erent aspect of the development of new media. Currently at least, the mobile appears to be operating with a screen aesthetic that does not tend towards traditional forms of I S T H I S N O T A S C R E E N ? • 149 cinematic realism, and certainly not towards those forms alone. Disputing the assump- tion that the mobile screen

incor- porated in it the terrific visions of a mind put out of joint, and at the same time introduced a truly cinematic realism.” Many of Caligari’s dominant lines of inquiry are laid here: into the “symptomatic value” of German films, which he considers “particularly transparent”; into the ideological function of Weimar cinema to hide from the middle classes their material conditions of existence; and into the “waning substantiality of the German democracy.”34 But at the same time, the plan nuances these questions with Reframing Caligari / 139 a

Press, 2000. Hase, Masato. “Nihon eiga no zentai shugi: Tsumura Hideo no eiga hihyō wo meggute [Jap- anese film and Totalitarianism: On Tsumra Hideo’s Film Criticism].” In Nihon eiga to nashonarizumu 1931–1945 [Japanese Film and nationalism 1931–1945], edited by Iwamoto Kenji, 273–294. Tokyo: Shinwasha, 2004. Hasegawa Nyozekan. Nihon eigaron [On Japanese Cinema]. Tokyo: Dai-Nippon Eiga Kyōkai, 1943. Hasegawa Tenkei. Shizen shugi [Naturalism]. Tokyo: Hakubunkan, 1908. Hazumi Tsuneo. “Eiga riarizumu no teishō” [Proposal for Cinematic Realism]. Kinema junpō 560