Stage and Scream: The Influence of Traditional Japanese Theater, Culture, and Aesthetics on Japan's Cinema of the Fantastic

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Although widely viewed in the West, Japanese films are often misunderstood, as they are built on cultural, theatrical, and aesthetic traditions entirely foreign to Western audiences. Particularly in regards to Japan's "fantastic" cinema - including giant monster pictures, ghost stories, and "J-Horror" films - what is often perceived as "cheap" or "cheesy" is merely an expression of these unique cultural roots. By observing and exploring such cultural artifacts as kabuki, noh, and bunraku - the traditional theatrical forms of Japan - long-standing literary traditions, deeply embedded philosophical beliefs, and even more recent developments such as the controversial dance form butoh, ... continued below

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Petty, John E. May 2011.

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Although widely viewed in the West, Japanese films are often misunderstood, as they are built on cultural, theatrical, and aesthetic traditions entirely foreign to Western audiences. Particularly in regards to Japan's "fantastic" cinema - including giant monster pictures, ghost stories, and "J-Horror" films - what is often perceived as "cheap" or "cheesy" is merely an expression of these unique cultural roots. By observing and exploring such cultural artifacts as kabuki, noh, and bunraku - the traditional theatrical forms of Japan - long-standing literary traditions, deeply embedded philosophical beliefs, and even more recent developments such as the controversial dance form butoh, these films, including Gojira (1954), Daimajin (1966), Kwaidan (1964), Onibaba (1964), Testuo the Iron Man (1989), and Ju-On (2002), can be placed in their proper perspective, leading to a reevaluation of their worth not merely as commercial products, but as uniquely Japanese expressions of that society's unique place in world culture.

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  • May 2011

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  • Jan. 9, 2012, 9:53 p.m.

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  • Jan. 14, 2014, 3:10 p.m.

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Petty, John E. Stage and Scream: The Influence of Traditional Japanese Theater, Culture, and Aesthetics on Japan's Cinema of the Fantastic, thesis, May 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc68031/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .