The relative lack of success of shingeki before world

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Unformatted text preview: is is nowhere more apparent than in the early use of film by Japanese directors for the purpose of social observation in the shomin-geki (popular, or home, dramas) that deal with the everyday lives of ordinary, typically lower middle-class people. Unlike most other audiences, which would not regard such lives as interesting unless they were enmeshed in significantly dramatic happenings, the Japanese appear to be fascinated simply with the pulse and movement of the lives themselves. There need not be great crises; it is enough for the Japanese taste to be shown how people truly behave together, most characteristically within the context of family relations. This theme of the home drama will be more fully discussed in the next chapter along with the films of Ozu Yasujirò, its finest master. But we can see here how ideally suited the cinema, rather than the stage, is to the presentation of the shomin-geki. For the shomin-geki is above all a form of drama about people’s lives unfolding within their natural settings, settings that the stage cannot adequately reproduce. Ozu’s films have been criticized by some Westerners as overlong and boring. Yet it is precisely the leisurely, unhurried survey of things that appeals most to his Japanese audiences, making them feel they are seeing life as it really is and not merely in disjointed glimpses. Time passes, the seasons change, there is a minimum of struggle: herein lies the essence of life.28 In contrast to the flourishing of motion pictures in Japan, efforts from the early years of the twentieth century to establish a modern Japanese theatre or drama (shingeki) achieved nothing comparable to the great distinction and commercial success of contemporary theatre in the West. The two main streams of the shingeki movement date from the founding in 1906 of the Literary Association (Bungei Kyòkai), one of whose organizers was the novelist and critic Tsubouchi Shòyò, and in 1909 of the Liberal Theatre ( Jiyû Gekijò) of Osanai Kaoru (1881–1928). Tsubouchi regarded shingeki as part of the overall attempt made from at least midMeiji times on to reform Japanese literature and theatre in general, and is remembe...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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