Do you know the history of cinema in Japan?

With well over 100 cinema in Japan is growing more and more every day. In 1899 the first Japanese film was produced, called Geisha No Teodori, a feature film documentary. But the first major production of Japanese cinema only took place in 1913, which was the first version of Chushingura, the 47 Ronins, based on the legend of samurai without a master.

During a certain period, as in other countries, the film industry was controlled by the military. Movie theaters were showing educational films and militaristic propaganda in large quantities. They also started to produce films with a focus on loyalty to the Emperor and personal sacrifice for the benefit of the people. Thus, in the period of the Second World War, the films acquired the objective of ideological propaganda.

Cinema in Japan after World War II

In the post-war period, Japan was overthrown in terms of infrastructure as well as psychological. Cinema has become a tool for re-education for the country, but little by little with the economic growth resurging, space is being opened for large studios such as Toho, Shochiku, Daiei to rebuild themselves. During this period, Western influence also became stronger and more evident among people, thus reflecting on cinema.

Do you know the history of cinema in japan?

And it is in this scenario that the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa appears, which opens in 1943 with Sugata Sanshiro. (Sugata Sanshiro - A Judo Saga). Kurosawa begins to gain popularity in Japan, creating stories where good and evil are not easily defined. In 1951 came international recognition, when Akira Kurosawa was awarded in Venice for his film “At the Gates of Hell” (Rashômon), many even say that because of this film it came to originate the Oscar category for best foreign film.

Two years later, Teinosuke Kinugasa, an actor and director of Japanese cinema, filmed “Amores de Samurai” (Jigokumon) which was the first color film in Japan to have an international premiere, and in 1954 this film would receive two Oscars. From then on, Japan's cinematographic production grew considerably, with 3 hundred films a year in the following years, it was when Japanese cinema first beat American cinema in Japan.

Diversifying cinema in Japan

The themes varied widely, ranging from dramas to comedies, and that was when the first divas of cinema began to appear, as women played a central role in cinema. Musical films were reappearing, as well as action and hero films. and in 1954 after the popularization of the Godzilla series, science fiction and fantasy films gained their space.

Cinema in japan

In the 60s and 70s, new central themes appeared. Directors such as Nagisa Oshima, Shohei Imamura, Masahiro Shindona and Seijun Suzuki broke the tradition, addressing modern themes, taken in a provocative and even shocking way, addressing themes such as crime, sex, the role of minorities and anti-heroes, also used surrealism and forms of unusual narratives for that time.

In 1988 Katsuhiro Otomo took his animation career from the famous and revolutionary Akira. The film showed a pessimistic future after a nuclear war, in a combination of technology, juvenile delinquency and political conspiracies. That same year Hayao Miyazaki adapts his manga Nausicaä of the Wind Valley (Kaze no tani no Naushika) for cinema.

In 2001 Hayao Miyazaki launches Chihiro's trip, movie that breaks box office records worldwide. He won the Golden Lion of Venice and the Oscar for Best Animated Film. In 2016 another film called Kimi no na wa appeared to break more box office records.

Today Japanese cinema continues its growth and popularity both nationally and internationally. With great films, authors, directors and actors, moving the economy of this medium.

Article written by Marcelo do Carmo. 

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