Vita Brevis Breviter In Brevi Finietu

Vita Brevis Breviter In Brevi Finietu

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Can Japanese Cinema Be Fully Understood By Western Audiences?

I've covered some really interesting topics through my degree and masters degree courses, so thought I'd pop them onto my blog so that people can see some elements that interest me from a film studies angle! This essay was from my second year at Trinity and All Saints College during my Film & Television Studies degree.

Discuss the claim that Japanese cinema cannot be properly understood by Western audiences without a wider understanding of the country’s history and society.

                Japanese culture is very different to that of the western world. To say that Japanese cinema cannot truly be understood by a western audience is only partly correct; it is true that a basic knowledge of Japanese society is useful, as the society structure is a lot different to that of Western areas, however it is not vital. For the majority of Japanese cinema it does not matter if the audience knows much about the history of Japan, as generally many relevant aspects are explained, however the more knowledge that the audiences possesses, the more sense the film will make and audiences will be able to place it into context more easily.
                History is important in Japan, and has helped to shape the way society is structured today. Events such as World War Two and the rise of Japan’s economy in the 1970s have had huge impact on Japan (Bordwell, 2003), especially as relationships with work are of huge importance to the Japanese as individuals. After Japan had boomed successfully, a recession began and the long time leaders, the Liberal Democratic party were shown to be corrupted on multiple occasions (Bordwell, 2003, p. 646). Aspects such as this are an important influence on films and the making of the films themselves, little knowledge of these events can hinder ones knowledge of the country as a whole, but generally are less relevant to most films, unless they are about a certain event itself, for example war, in which case historical facts are generally explained in the films plot or narrative.