JAPN 480 JFILM SPRING 2008 1-19-08 - Personal.psu.edu


JAPN 480 JFILM SPRING 2008 1-19-08 - Personal.psu.edu

Spring 2008



JAPN 480

M 001 21969

1:00-2:15p Tu Th

121 Olscamp Hall


Monday 4-7

Gish Film Theater


This survey of Japanese film from the silent era through the 2000s examines how films and filmmakers have

dealt with the issue of representational truth and documentary fiction. From its origins through periods of

high consumption, war, prosperity, angst, and destitution, filmic history is

a history of the cultural reception of a technology with a marvelous, seductive

allure—while film promises to record an image of reality by

chemically captured light reflected from real objects, that image is continuously

confused with the reality it inscribes. Film’s inherent connection

through light to the real world of tangible objects has served a multitude

of ends in Japan. This course will explore how fictional representation

plays with events and truths.


•To understand salient features and develop basic knowledge in the following

areas: Japanese film history. film aesthetics, technical aspects of

the film medium, and Japanesecultural history.

•To learn to interpret film through sensitivity to cultural context and symbolic

content while coming to understand the stakes involved in interpretation.

•To refine your understanding of the relationship between works of art

and social/cultural context.

•To learn to organize thoughts and express them clearly.

•To learn to think critically about film’s unique role in representation and

to become a more engaged, critical spectator of film and related media.

All course readings are in English. All films are in Japanese with English subtitles. The course

assumes no prior knowledge of film theory or Japanese language or culture.

Jonathan Abel


Office Hours:

T, TH 2:30-3:30pm

or by appointment

Office Location:

119 Shatzel

Jitsuroku eiga (True records)

Bordering on documentaries, a

branch of yakuza (mobster) films

pioneered by Fukasaku Kinji were

said to represent the reality of

lives of organized crime, bordering

on documentaries. But exactly

how real could they be?





Course Schedule

Week 1 Introduction

• Tuesday January 8

What is Japanese Film?

Silent” Film: Benshi and Chambara

Shibukawa Bangoro (1922)

• Thursday January 10

Histories, Historicity, and Time of Cinema

Backward Flow (1928)

McDonald, Keiko I. "Introduction”.

Standish, Chapter 1 Japanese Cinema, 29-80

Corrigan, “Six Approaches to Writing about Film”

Week 2 Light and Sound

• Monday 14, 4-7pm Optional Screening

Serpent (1925), Tokyo March (1929), Page of

Madness (1926), Water Magician (1933)

• Tuesday January 15

Dym, “Tokugawa Musei”

Standish, “Cinema, Nationalism and Empire”

• Thursday January 17

Tanizaki, “The Present and Future of Moving

Pictures,” “Miscellaneous Observations on Cinema”

Foucault, Ceci n’est pas un pipe Selections.

Monaco, “Film Theory”

• Friday, January 18

Special screening –Ugetsu (1953) MIZOGUCHI

Week 3 Auteur Theory

Masters One: MIZOGUCHI


• Tuesday January 22

IN CLASS̛—Sisters of the Gion (1936)

“Richie, “Mizoguchi and the Period Film”

McDonald,. "Synergy of Theme, Style, and Dialogue"

• Thursday January 24

Bordwell, Film Art Glossary.

Kracauer, “Basic Concepts”

Week 4 Genre—NARUSE

• Monday 28, 4-7pm Optional Screening. Naruse’s

Repast (1951),

• Tuesday January 29

IN CLASS — Ozu Shorts

Richie, ”New Gendaigeki,” ”Ozu and Naruse”

Isolde, “Cinema and the state”

• Thursday January 31

Dern, “Cinematography: Creative Use of Reality”

James Naremore, “Authorship”


Week 5 History—Masters 2: OZU

• Monday February 4, 4-7pm Optional Screening

DOUBLE FEATURE: Floating Weeds OZU (1934,


• Tuesday February 5

Guest Lecture

McDonald, “Floating Weeds”

High, “Ozu’s War Movie”

• Thursday February 7

Yoshida, Ozu’s Anti-Cinema Chapterrs 1&2

Brakhage, “Metaphors on Vision” excerpts.

Week 6 Formalism— Masters 3: KUROSAWA

• Monday 11, 4-7pm Optional Screening Heaven

and Hell (1963) KUROSAWA

• Tuesday February 12

IN CLASSThey Who Step on the Tiger's Tail (1945)

• Thursday February 14

An overview in clips from gendaigeki Kurosawa.

Allen, “ Psychoanalytic Film Theory”

Standish,”Cinema and Humanism” 174-219.

Week 7 Toward New Representations

• Monday 18, 4-7pm Optional Screening

Pornographers (1966)

• Tuesday February 19 IMAMURA/HARA/HANI

Debord, Society of Spectacle (Selections)

• Thursday February 21

Pribram, “Spectatorship and Subjectivity”

Deleuze, “Preface to Cinema 1”

Week 8 Rethinking the Period Drama

• Monday 25, 4-7pm Optional Screening

Seppuku (1962)

• Tuesday February 26

Mellen, “Harakiri”

Wood, “Ideology, Genre, Auteur”

• Thursday February 28

Slavoj Zizek: The Reality of the Virtual Clips

James, “Is There A Class in this Text?”

Prince, ‘True Lies: Perceptual Realism”



Auteur as Nation

Ozu, Mizoguchi, and

Kurosawa are continually

upheld as the big three

of Japanese film, but

who makes this claim,

why, and when?

Is the camera a

silent recorder or a

weapon of mass




Course Schedule

...after the fall?

Week 10

• Monday 10, 4-7pm Optional Screening

Face of Another (1966)

• Tuesday March 11 TESHIGAHARA

Marie-Laure Ryan, “Voices and Worlds”

• Thursday March 12

Cazdyn, “Historiography”


Week 11

• Monday 17, 4-7pm Optional Screening

Death by Hanging (1968)

• Tuesday March 18 OSHIMA/YOSHIDA

Standish, “Cinema and Transgression”

Yoshida, “Ozu’s Anti-cinema” selections

• Thursday March 20

Cazdyn, “Origin, Nation, Aesthetic”

Week 12

• Monday 24, 4-7pm Optional Screening

DOUBLE FEATURE: Funeral Parade of Roses

(1969), Blind Beast (1969)

• Tuesday March 25 MATSUMOTO/


“Documentarists of Japan # 9, Matsumoto


• Thursday March 27

Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema:

Thomas Sheridan, "Musings on Telepresence

and Virtual Presence."



Week 13

• Monday 31, 4-7pm Optional Screening

Trash the Books, Take to the Streets (1971)

• Tuesday April 1 TERAYAMA

• Thursday April 3

Domenig, “On ATG”

Selections from ATG Retrospective.

Week 14

• Monday 7, 4-7pm Optional Screening


Kantō Wanderer 1963, Graveyard of Honor


• Tuesday April 8 SUZUKI/FUKASAKU

Yakuza (selections)

Toppa mono (selections)

• Thursday April 10

Baudrillard, “Simulacra and Simulation” selections

Week 15

• Monday 14, 4-7pm Optional Screening


Burst City (1982), Tetsuo (1992)

• Tuesday April 15 ITAMI/SOGO ISHII/


• Thursday April 17

Tatsumi, “Full Metal Apache” Selection

Week 16

• Monday 21, 4-7pm Optional Screening

Picnic (1996), Dolls (2002)

• Tuesday April 22 IWAI/KITANO/MIIKE/


Standish, “Reflections”

Yoshimoto, “The University, Disciplines, National

Identity: Why Is There No Film Studies

in Japan?”

• Thursday April 25

Visitor Q (2002) Clips


Week 17



Friday May 2 1:15-3:15




What happens

when the camera is

wrenched from the

hands of masters by

their students?

Formal Powers of the Studio

For half a century, the

studios dominated

Japanese filmmaking,

canonizing directors and

toppling them. In this

context, what is more

relevant to how we read a

film—the company or the

people that produce it?

What did TV do to the

system? How is the net

changing things?



Codes of Honor:


There is zero tolerance

for plagiarizing or

cheating in this class.

DO NOT DO IT!!! When you

are caught you will

receive a zero for that

portion of your work. And

you risk disciplinary

action by the

university... and mild

forms of decapitation by

your professor.

Students are expected to screen films prior to Tuesday’s class.

All readings not in the following list of required texts are available in

pdf format or by link via the website.

Students should consult the books on reserve for

their papers and presentations.


Books are available from the University Bookstore.


Students are required first and foremost to

screen all of the films for a given week prior to the

Tuesday meeting.

Isolde Standish, A New History of Japanese Cinema: A

Century Of Narrative Film (Continuum International Publishing

Group , 2006) ISBN-10: 0826417906

Scott Nygren, Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of

History (Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2007) ISBN-10: 0816647089

Yoshida Kiju, Ozu's Anti-Cinema (Michigan Monograph Series in

Japanese Studies, 2003) ISBN-10: 1929280270

Students who

cannot attend the optional

screenings at the

Gish are required to view

the films on reserve at

the language lab.

Useful References:

Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan

Bibliography of Asian Studies (BAS)

A Short Guide to Writing about Film

Bordwell, Film Art: An Introduction

Monaco, How to Read a Film


Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, Kurosawa: Film Studies and

Japanese Cinema (Duke University Press, 2000)

ISBN-10: 0822325195

Eric Cazdyn, The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics

in Japan (Duke University Press, 2002) ISBN-10:


Donald Richie, One Hundred Years of Japanese Film (Kodansha

International, 2005) ISBN 4770029950

Tom Mes, Jasper Sharp, The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese

Film (Stone Bridge Press, 2005) ISBN 1880656892

Also please see the lengthy list of materials on reserve at the library

. The list is also posted on the course website.


Be sure to

mark the attendance

sheet at each

class meeting

or Gish


Also make

sure you sign

in at the

Language Center

if you

are watching


Every day an assignment

is late

will result in the

lowering grade for

that assignment by

one rank (if the

paper was to receive

an A, it will

receive an A- if

turned in late

within 24 hours of

the deadline or a

B+ if within 48

hours, etc.)

Everyone taking the

course will have to

present at some point.

As presenters and as

discussion participants

respect your peers and

their thoughts.

Neither food of any

kind nor friends

who are not enrolled

in the

course are allowed

to come to the





Individual Work 50%

Film Journal 25%

10 short (one- or two- pages) reports on

films viewed in class will be due within one

week of their screening at the beginning of

following week’s film. Entries must note the


1) Film name and year of release

2) Director’s name

3) Production company name

4) Setting

5) Main characters’ names and brief descriptions

(actors names if important)

6) Plot summary

7) Themes, motifs, recurring images

8) Notable scenes

9) Most importantly, thoughts on the film

(between five and fifteen sentences.) These

can be comments, criticisms, or questions.

They should relate the film to class discussion

and/or the readings. Journals are not to

be summaries. See Film Journal Guidelines

on Course website for more details

Term Paper 25%

A term paper worth one quarter of the

entire grade for the course will be due during

exam week.

Papers are individual labors. These research

paper will include a close analysis and

interpretation (not mere summary) of at least

one FILM shown for the class. The paper will

discuss how the FILM relates to several of the

course readings. The paper will include of

print sources not used in class. Web sources

are permitted but not in lieu outside print


The finished products should be between

seven and ten pages (excluding bibliography,

appendices, photos, and diagrams). All papers

should be in the MLA (Modern Language Association)

style format. Students are encouraged

to use the Bibliography of

Asian Studies, JSTOR and Project

MUSE databases to find

relevant books and articles.

5% of your paper grades

are determined by paper-related

assignments. (Meeting with me

during office hours to approve

your paper topic, handing in

thesis statements, and handing

in outlines.)

For more details on papers

please refer to Guidelines

for Writing Critical Papers.

Participation 50%

Attendance & Preparation 20%

Students are expected to attend all class

meetings. Students are expected to complete

all of the reading and screenings for the week

in time for Tuesday class.

If a student has extenuating circumstances

regarding either of these requirements,

that student should contact me immediately.

In order to receive credit for attendance,

you must not only be present in class, but also

bring marked copies of the readings to class

and be prepared to give your opinions and

questions on the reading. You must also bring

any written material assigned for that class


FILMS: Students are expected to view all

course films prior to the Tuesday of week

they are assigned. Students unable to attend

the screenings can find the DVDs on reserve at

the LLC. Some films are also available at the

library. At all locations students must sign-in

to receive attendance credit.

PARTICIPATION: In order to receive credit

for in-class discussion, you must email me a

self-assessment report. On the last Friday, of

When is the eye

of the beholder


every month students must email

me a a self-evaluation report assessing

their own in-class performance. The selfassessment

should include the words “selfassessment”

in the subject header and a letter

grade of A, B, C, D, or F.

In-Class Group Presentation 30%

The group presentation will consist of a

research project and in-class oral/visual presentation.

The purpose of the presentations is

to educate the class on some contexts to a

given week’s film which may be confusing or

which may have been touched on only tangentially

in class lectures or readings. Students

will also make interpretive readings of particular

scenes from films during their presentations.

WIKIs (consisting of visual aids, timelines,

definitions of terms, and/or annotated

bibliographies) are required.

All groups must plan a meeting with the

instructor to discuss their plan and work at

least two week prior to their presentation.

All students must sign up for a week to

give a presentation by the third week of class.

For more detail, see presentation guidelines.

Important Notes!!!

This syllabus is in flux.

•Any changes to the schedule will be

announced in class or via email (so make

sure your email is up-to-date with blackboard

and make sure you check it).

•Any printed version of this syllabus is

likely already out of date. Be sure to

download the latest electronic version

from the blackboard site.

•Check the date here:

LAST UPDATED: 12/13/09

See Assignment Guidelines on

BlackBoard Site for info on:

• Film Jounals

• Term Papers

• Presentations


Raise Your Participation Grade

This winter we have the unprecedented

opportunity of having five Japanese films

come to campus as part of the International

Film festival. Attend as many as

you can and get bonus participation

points. Make sure you sign in with Professor

Abel at the screenings.




Gish Film Theater

Screenings Monday 4-7pm

All students are strongly

advised to come to every

screening! Though DVDs

will be available through

the library or LLC and the

Gish screenings are

optional, all of these films

were produced to be

screened in large public


format not in private or on

a screen the size of a piece

of paper.

Whether you choose to

watch the films at the Gish

screenings or the LLC, be

sure to sign in.

Some words about the Gish

Film Theater....

We are fortunate to have the

opportunity to screen the films in the

historic Gish Film Theater. With this

privilege comes some responsibility:

✦We must not bring food or

drinks into the theater.

✦We must keep our feet off the

back of seats.


Though there will be plenty

of room for friends in the

theater, the screenings are

only open to students taking

the course. Please resist the

temptation to invite your

friends, family, acquaintances, or

other random strangers you

happen to meet on the way to the

screenings. Course screenings are

NOT open to the public!!!

Do invite your

friends to the open

screenings at the

International Film

Festival and impress them

with your knowledge of

Japanese film history,

technique, and trivia.

This course begins with the presumption that

all filmic images are created equal. Their value may

not always be apparent at first glance. Films in this

course have been chosen on the basis of their

historical, innovative, and aesthetic importance,

not on the basis of approval by the MPAA. As such,

some of the films contain scenes of violence and/or

sexual content represented in ways unfamiliar to

Hollywood cinema. Students are expected to

respect their peers and the inherent value of the

films regardless of the emotional reactions evoked

by the images.



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