Beginning Japanese Film Theory

BeginningEndMy current project is to write a book on the history of Japanese film theory. It is a rich and vibrant history, but unfortunately little known not only outside but even inside Japan. I've already published a number of pieces (such as in the Iwanami series and in the RJCS special issue) and given talks about it (including one at McGill last week--thanks for the great turnout and the great questions!). 

One of these pieces is another perspective on Gonda Yasunosuke, the early thinker who is also featured in Visions of Japanese Modernity, that I published in an Italian catalogue which arose out of several conferences in Udine. There is actually now a world-wide effort to rethink the history of film theory, one that is spearheaded by the Permanent Seminar in the History of Film Theories, and led by Jane Gaines of Columbia and Francesco Casetti, author of Eye of the Century and my new colleague at Yale. It is trying to move away from film theory history in the singular, and seek out different and alternative histories. The Udine seminars were coordinated by the Permanent Seminar.

The book that was published, Dall'inizio, alla fine, is massive: 592 pages and includes dozens of articles in a variety of languages (most are in English, but there are a lot of French and Italian ones too). It features pieces by many of the great film scholars, especially from Europe: Marc Vernet, Frank Kessler, Trond Lundemo, André Gaudreault, Angela Dalla Vacche, and Roger Odin.

I have an article in it, alongside ones by two of my graduate students at Yale: Naoki Yamamoto and Ryan Cook. Our three articles constitute a mini-introduction to problems in Japanese film theory, and hint at the rich research that will be coming out. (Naoki is working on a dissertation on realist film theory in Japan; Ryan on cinephilia in Japan). Here are our pieces:

  • Aaron Gerow, "Japanese Film Theory, Gonda Yasunosuke, and Another Film Civilization," pp. 553-560.
  • Ryan Cook, "A Feeling for Endings: Inagaki Taruho's Miroku as a Memoir of Cinephilia," pp. 561-570.
  • Naoki Yamamoto, "Experiencing the World through Cinema: Nagae Michitaro and the Bergsonian Approach to Film in Wartime Japan," pp. 571-576.

Here is the bibliographic info for the book:

Dall'inizio, alla fine. Theorie del cinema in prospettiva / In the very beginning, at the very end. Film Theories in Perspective

Edited by Francesco Casetti, Jane Gaines and Valentine Re

Udine: Forum, 2010. ISBN 9788884205988

It seems that only Italian web bookstores are offering it for sale, but here is one in English: DEAstore.

Everything © Aaron Gerow. Send comments and suggestions to