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Nippon ModernJapanese Cinema of the 1920s and 1930s$
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Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831820

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831820.001.0001

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Vernacular Meanings of Genre

Vernacular Meanings of Genre

The Middle-Class Film

(p.43) Chapter 2 Vernacular Meanings of Genre
Nippon Modern

Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the Japanese film genre known as “middle-class film” (shoshimin eiga), a formative genre in the classical Japanese cinema of the 1920s and 1930s. It first considers genre criticism as a strategy for national cinema studies, as well as an elaboration of genre’s specific historical construction in Japanese cinema. It then explores how the middle-class film genre established connections with an audience of the urban middle class and how idiosyncratically the Japanese film industry employed genres apart from Hollywood in the cinematic modes of that period. It also discusses the politics of genre in Japan’s national cinema and the creation of a modern national subject in two films by Ozu Yasujiro: Tokyo Chorus (Tokyo no gassho, 1931) and I Was Born, But… Finally, the chapter explains how notions of Japanese genre have been molded in cross-cultural misunderstandings within Western film scholarship, along with the culturally specific use of genre appropriation in Japan.

Keywords:   film genre, Japanese film, middle-class film, Japanese cinema, urban middle class, Japanese film industry, Hollywood, Ozu Yasujiro, Tokyo Chorus, Western film

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