News and Opinion

Eiga Geijutsu Kenkyu and Film Theory in Japan

The second in my series of reprints of prewar film studies/film theory journals at Yumani Shobo has come out. This follows the reprint of Eiga kagaku kenkyu, the late 1920s and early 1930s journal which featured filmmakers inquiring over what cinema is (see my introduction here).

EGK new

Eiga geijutsu kenkyu (Studies in Film Art) was a more heavily theoretical and academic journal, which ran for two and a half years from early 1933 to late 1935. It stood out for its quite long articles investigating conceptual topics ranging from film aesthetics to psychoanalysis and cinema. While it also devoted many pages to translations of both famous and less famous foreign theory, it was a journal that showed the confidence of its often quite young writers in critiquing that theory and composing their own ideas. That said, the journal was not necessarily revolutionary in its stance towards film theory. As I wrote in the commentary, the leader of the journal, Sasaki Norio, still had one foot in German romantic aesthetics, which rejected standard forms of cinematic realism, even as he began exploring a more sociological approach to cinema. Still, new writers such as Sugiyama Heiichi began pointing to new theoretical directions. Eiga geijutsu kenkyu was in many ways a transitional journal, indicating the shift in aesthetics as film realism came to the fore in the late 1930s. 

Everything © Aaron Gerow. Send comments and suggestions to