enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


1 Re-reading Post-war Japanese Cinema

  One of the joys of watching films is what could be referred to as the “pleasure of reading.” We arrive at various interpretations of a work by meticulously picking up on its audiovisual elements or responding to relevant comments on film directors and actors in newspapers and magazines using analysis in each particular context. Alternatively, knowledge of who wrote the underlying novel or play and of the context in which it was read, and by what kind of reader surely facilitates a deeper appreciation of the film. Thus, when we link elements that are internal and external to the film and reread the film from the perspective of gender/sexuality/eroticism, we are able to make a rich variety of interpretations, even for a work that does not directly depict homosexual desire or a queer protagonist.
  The first section of this exhibition, with reference to film criticism published at the time and previous literature on cinema, focuses on the type of gender/sexuality/eroticism it was possible/impossible to express in general commercial films from the end of the war in 1945 until the 1970s. The fact that “post-war Japanese cinema” refers to the period up to and including the 1970s may give the impression of covering too broad a range. However, it covers releases until the appearance of Maki Carrousel, who had undergone gender reassignment surgery as a transgender woman in Ore ha inaka no Puresuri (Presley in the Countryside) at the end of the 1970s.
  Immediately after the war, the Japanese film industry was censored by the occupying forces. It set an ethics code in 1949, with The Motion Picture Code of Ethics Committee (eiga rinri kitei kanri iinkai), responsible for what was later referred to as the “old” ethics code, starting off as an organization internal to the industry. At the end of 1956, a self-regulating body run by third parties came into being (the motion picture ethics supervision committee or ei rin kanri iinkai). Clauses relating to “sex and morals” in the “old” ethics code had already mentioned “sexual deviancy and perversion” with the intention of controlling depiction of “homosexuality and the so-called ‘gay-boy’ lifestyle.” How did directors and actors seek out methods of expressing gender/sexuality/eroticism under such self-regulatory rules? We aim to reinterpret Japanese films from the end of the war till around the 1970s, centering on the “pleasure of reading” method built up by critics and fans, specifically including a reconsideration of Keisuke Kinoshita’s films and an examination of the expression of queerness in Yasujirō Ozu’s "Noriko trilogy,” Kazuo Hasegawa’s An Actor’s Revenge, and Hibari Misora’s Hanagasa wakashuu (Twin Princess), and of representation of intimacy between men in the Toei Ninkyou yakuza films and of lesbian desire in films based on novels.