In this web gallery, students in Film 431 (Spring 2016) present their final research projects on 1960s-70s Japanese cinema. During this era, as in many other countries, the rise of television contributed to the decline of film attendance and the collapse of the studio system. As audiences dwindled and filmgoer demographics changed, Japanese cinema became more violent and sexually explicit. Young, iconoclastic filmmakers (known as the Japanese New Wave) rebelled against studio conventions and established their own independent production companies. Established studios were often happy to distribute independent films and experiment with new genres (including male-oriented manga adaptations and soft-core romance films) in order to survive the demise of industrial cinema.
At the same time, many 1960s-70s Japanese filmmakers and intellectuals called for a more politically engaged cinema. Critics debated cinema’s relation to reality and its potential to effect social change. Failed popular movements against the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (ANPO) and American military bases in Japan led to dark films about resistance and rebellion, political agency, responsibility, and existential meaning.
These independent research projects build on the themes of the course, exploring how postwar transformations shaped Japanese cinema—both at and beyond the major studios. Themes include: postwar Japanese cinema and the global economy; gender and film genre; war memory and national identity; political filmmaking and oppositional film style; experimental filmmaking and Japanese subcultures; and sexual politics and sexual identity in postwar Japanese cinema.