Picturing Japaneseness: Monumental Style, National Identity, Japanese Film

I originally got this book hoping it would cover material from World War II, but that did not prove to be the focus of the book. It's an examination of various styles of Japanese films and, at times, the book reads more like a thesis than a regular book.

The book does talk about Japan in the 30's, and the growing militarization of Japan. It notes the backlash against Western music and films, and the growing emphasis on Japanese tradition. It also notes how the military got more control over films. It talks about how various laws controlling what could be made came about, and how writers ended up agreeing to emphasize positive Japanese things, and emphasize negative things about non-Japanese.

Here's a sample of why this book is somewhat hard to understand: A provisional definition of the monumental style is as follows: it is a pre-war cinema permeated by a hieratic, sacramental appropriation of a classical heritage in order to promote an apotheosis of Japanese national identity.

There are probably better ways to get an idea across.

The vast majority of the book is a detailed examination of some of the Japanese films, and the categories of films that these fell into. For a person really, really into the details of Japanese films, this would be a good book, but for the casual reader, it's a book to pass over.

Main Index
Japan main page
Japanese-American Internment Camps index page
Japan and World War II index page