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Centeno, Marcos (2015) Susumu Hani (1950-1960): la aportación teórico-práctica al documental y al cine juvenil japonés. Una aproximación al caso de Hani como precursor de la Nueva Ola. PhD thesis. Universitat de València.

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This thesis brings for the first time an anthology of the Japanese director Susumu Hani. It brings to light the documentary films for cinema and television, made in Iwanami Eiga studios between 1950 and 1960, most of them unknown in the West. The analysis of these works is undertaken together with the reading of the original essays written by Hani, which are put into context within the theoretical discussions taking place in Japan at that time. PART 1 deals with the theoretical and practical contribution of Hani to the non-fiction cinema. Section 1.1 is an study of the debate in which he participated regarding the avant-garde documentary, realism (recovering the conflict of the Marxist theorists of the 1930s, Taihei Imamura and Akira Iwasaki), the “discussion of subjectivity” (shutaiseiron), the nature of the “image” (eizo), the “art of synthesis” (sogo geijutsu), the ideological and aesthetical rupture of authors with the “Old Left” from 1956 and the influence of the “document of life” (seikatsu kiroku”). Two competing positions are ididentified within the "Kiroku Geijutsu no Kai" ["Asociación del Arte Documental"] group from 1957: the deformative leaning of Toshio Matsumoto and the naturalistic current of Susumu Hani. Matsumoto followed Kiyoteru Hanada, Kobo Abe and Taro Okamoto’s formal concern, their unconscious and surrealist interest, aiming at dismantling perceptive habits. On the other hand, Hani criticized the objectivism but moved the problem of subjectivity from the interior of the author to the interior of the characters. He does not propose a synthesis with other arts but with other mass media, together with the exploration of an emotional universe which had multiple sources of inspiration: from Flaherty to Robert Bresson, the British documentary movement (Grierson, Rocha, Wright, Cavalcanti) or even the works produced during the Spanish Civil War (Capa’s photography or Hemingway’s literary journalism). Section 1.2 is an analysis of the documentaries made during that decade, which are put in dialog with Hani’s own texts. He wrote not only about cinema (between 1955 and 1967) but also aobut television (1959-1960), childhood (1963-1979), the animal’s world (1965-1966 and 1973-1981) or youth (1974, 1975, 1982). The film corpus is classified in: -The early “films of social science” (shakaika kyoiku eiga) in which the influence of his mentor is revealed, the veteran documentary maker Keiji Yoshino, from who Hani learnt the combination of the scientific view and social concern. -The documentary on the world of children: the considered as his masterpieces "Children in the Classroom" (Kyoshitsu no kodomotachi 1954) and "Children who Draw" (E o kaku kodomotachi, 1956) but also the lesser known “Soseji Gakyu” (1954) and “Gurupu no shido” (1956) in which innovative physiological and educational experiences are registered. The analysis is undertaken together with the context of the Postwar educational reform, Hani’s writings on education, childhood and paternity (1960-1979), the influence of the alternative schools like Jiyu Gakuen (founded by his grandparents), the arrival in Japan of the theories on art and child psychology or the emergence of the “Movement of Creative and Artistic Education” (Sozo Biiku Undo). -The first of his works on the animal’s world: Dobutsuen nikki (1957), whose analysis is carried out together with Hani’s reflections on the interior universe of animals (1965-1966 y 1973-1981). -The films about Traditional Japan: three cinematographic documentaries and five television documentaries. Hani belonged to the first generation of directors who worked in television and became enthusiastic about the possibilities of the new medium. His notion of “terementari” (television documentary) is taken into account. It did not only mean a new format but also a new style which would allow a more honest approach to reality (debates of 1959-1960). -The graphic reports of the "Iwanami Shashin Bunko" collection (1950-1958).The transit of images between photography and documentary film is analyzed. -The documentary “Tokyo 1958” (1958), a collective and multidisciplinary work which displays a parody on the notion of modernity in the Japanese capital, combining elements from the ukiyoe, painting, theater or advertising. PART 2 deals with Hani’s jump to fiction in “Bad Boys” (Furyo shonen, 1960) made from two different perspectives. On the one hand, the study of the adaptation of the documentary method in fiction (Section 2.1, focused in the formal aspect). On the other, the constitution of youth cinema reacting against teen cinema released some years before (Section 2.2, focused on the narrative aspect). In Section 2.1 it is described how the documentary method prompted the renewal of the cinematographic language in the 1960s and the inauguration of the New Wave. It is framed the role of subjectivity in the construction of the cinematographic modernity in Japan, its equivalence with the notion of European authorship, led by the French trends of the “politique des auteurs” as well as the differences between the Japanese concept of subject and the subject coming from the European semiotics. The reading of Hani’s texts shows evidence of his relation with other foreign new waves, of which he was a great disseminator (texts between 1959 and 1961): the New American Cinema or the French Nouvelle Vague but especially the Polish School (Kawalerowicz, Wajda, Munk) as well as Fellini and Antonioni’s cinemas, although he regarded himself as the heir of the Italian Neorealism (mainly of Rossellini). It is proposed a comparative analysis between “Bad Boys” and the book “Tobenai tsubasa” (1958) which belongs to the “seikatsu kiroku”, the genre of autobiographic and amateur writing in which the psychologist Aiko Jinushi gathers the texts of the inmates from the Kurihama reformatory, who wrote about their own lives. Inspired by their stories and following the same method, Hani made the stars of “Bad Boys” project throughout their performance a cinematographic rewriting of their own experience. Hani entered in modernity throughout acinematographic and antidramatic formulas, breaking with stereotypes and challenging the notion of “course” (kosu) in the actions. The documentary method crystallized in a new realism in two dimensions: a narrative realism, dominated by the achronological order of actions and the character’s existential doubts; a formal realism, dominated by an asceticism which was characteristic of Iwanami Eiga documentary production (natural lighting, without sets or professional actors, filming with light equipment or with the hand-held camera). In Section 2.2 it is highlighted that the suggestive documentary style of “Bad Boys” eclipsed the fact that this film was the origin of a “youth cinema” (seishun eiga) which reacted against a teen cinema (the taiyozoku). In order to make this distinction the following methodological procedure was carried out: -Firstly, describing these films from the definitions of adolescence and youth not as physiological but as a socio-cultural group (Morin, Gillis) including the application to the Japanese case (Namba, Kon, Okuno) and Hani’s reflections on these stages of the human being. -Secondly, the taiyozoku is defined as the birth of teen culture in Japan, understood as a multidimensional phenomenon: its literary origin with Shintaro Ishihara’s novels, the film versions, the press scandal, the constitution of popular culture in the weekly magazines, the debates in the literary circles and the creation of a juvenile star system. A transversal study is proposed, paying attention not only to its transmedia but also its transcultural dimension (given the reminiscence of the American popular culture and the echoes of European teen culture). -Thirdly, a comparative analysis is undertaken between “Bad Boys” and "Season of the Sun" (Taiyo no kisetsu, Takumi Furukawa, 1956), the first of the five taiyozoku films released in the Summer of 1956. The axes of study are: 1. the depiction of juvenile delinquency; 2. The fall of gerontocracy, which according to Morin is produced by two facts: the emancipation of woman and the end of paternal authority. -Fourthly, as a hypothesis, it is established that the transition from teen to youth culture can be understood as a substitution of a “subculture” by a “counterculture” (which is not under the hegemonic discourses but against them), which explain the contradictory representations of the so-called “Japanese Economic Miracle”. It is studied here as an imaginary or “frame” (proposed by Goffman but applied by Namba to the Japanese case). -Finally, a “Period of Transition” (1956-1960) is delimited in which a trajectory can be defined from Shintaro Ishihara’s bourgeois taiyozoku (1956), followed by Yasuzo Masumura and Kon Ichikawa’s proletarian taiyozoku (1957 and 1958) to Hani’s lumpenproletarian taiyozoku (1960). In these views of the “end of postwar”, the problem of Japaneseness gains prominence, pointing out the traumas, complexes and daydreams of Japanese youth towards the West. In CONCLUSION, a number of references to Hani’s most recognized works frequently appear in the literature of Japanese Cinema, but a big part of the filmography made during his decade as a documentary maker has been ignored by scholars to date. As a consequence, Hani has paradoxically been a referential author and at the same time a largely unknown figure. The films studied here show how Hani was ahead of the innovative and breaking nature the New Wave would have in years to come. Hence, he challenged previous documentary objectivism but also considerations on authorship of the time, giving the camera a capacity to register the inner world hidden behind the scenes. He did so with suggestive realism which would end up relocating cinema in an undefined place between reality and fiction, making dual use of its capacity to create and reflect reality through a psychological exploration alien to the author. Regarding his essays, when putting his publications into context, it can be seen how Hani became a key figure of the changes that took place in Japanese cinema in the second half of the last century. But given the lack of translations or later compilations of his texts, his theoretical contributions ended up being forgotten by most Western and Japanese scholars. Nevertheless, the re-reading of his texts shows evidence of the birth of a new kind of director, being simultaneously a cinema critic, a theorist and a disseminator, who would lead the emerging cinematographic modernity in the national and international arena.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Additional Information: Qualification: Excellent Cum Laude
Keywords: Japanese New Wave, Susumu Hani, Iwanami Eiga, Bad Boys, Documentary Film, Film Theory
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Centre for Film Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea
Regional Centres and Institutes > SOAS Japan Research Centre
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General)
Supervisors Name: Vicente Sánchez Biosca and Norimasa Morita
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2015 11:14
Related URLs: http://roderic. ... dle/10550/43049 (Publisher URL)

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