Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In jenen Tagen (1947)

Many film history books devote their pages on postwar German film industry to New German Cinema movement, usually citing the names of the auteurs like Fassbinder, Herzog, Schlöndorff or Wenders, and drawing a parallel with French New Wave. Both movements shouted first and shot later: they both shouted their papa's movies suck. For French New Wave, 'papa' was kindly named by François Truffois, - directors like Claude Autant-Lara, Jean Delannoy, René Clément, Yves Allègret and Marcello Pagliero, and scriptwriters like Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, Jacques Sigurd, Henri Jeanson, Robert Scipion, and Roland Laudenbach (1). Young Germans were much more civilized: their Overhausener Manifesto just called it "conventional German cinema" and refrained themselves from bursting into name-calling (2).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When A Society Drifts Further From Truth

During the production of "Bouquet in the South Seas (Nan-kai no Hanataba, 1942)"
The film was shot on location in Marshall Islands and other South Sea Islands,
the occupied territories of Japan at the time.
The caption for this photo reads "The issues of the South Sea Islands need the most urgent attention."

The nationalists not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
- George Orwell

There's an article in Independent website about ever-growing revisionist views among the board members of NHK, the public broadcasting in Japan. 
Naoki Hyakuta says Japan was lured into the Second World War by America while liberating Asia from white colonialism.
He denies war crimes such as the 1937 Nanjing massacre, when Japanese troops killed thousands of Chinese civilians. Such views are common among revisionists in Japan. Mr Hyakuta, however, sits on the board of the nation’s public service broadcaster.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Newsreels of War (Part 3)

Southern half of Sakhalin had been a part of Japanese territory since early 20th century, and many Japanese relocated from the main islands to seek profitable opportunities. At the same time, these settlers craved for entertainment from the country they had left behind. Movies were particularly in high demand, and there was at least one theater in each settlement. Shikuka (or Shisuka, Polonysk today) was one of those towns along the Soviet border, with a population of 30,000 (in 1941). Koji Takii, a reporter from Kinema Junpo, visited the town in 1939 to document the movie business in the town. There were two movie theaters in Shikuka, but their programs were chaotic. They screened whatever available to them at the time regardless of their production companies or origins. During winter, movie print supplies from Japan main islands were so scarce that they had to screen the same old movie for weeks. Since the place was located at the very end of film distribution chain, the prints were battered from repeated screenings and broke easily. Takii brought a fresh print of a propaganda film, Koukoku Nippon (The Emperor's Country, Nippon), and proposed its screening to townspeople. They were only eager to have such a 'glorious' movie screened. The local movie theaters were running mainly commercial features such as melodramas and period films, and it is not surprising that people in Shikuka found such a propaganda film so illuminating and educational. The event was named "Anti-Communism National Defense Week" and the Women's Association of the town handled ticket sales through Geishas and Cafe waitresses. The screening was packed to the roof, with all those who had bought the tickets from girls in nightclubs and cafe, plus all the school pupils lead by teachers.