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Japanese Widescreen Cinema: Commerce, Technology and Aesthetics

Sharp, Jasper (2013) Japanese Widescreen Cinema: Commerce, Technology and Aesthetics. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The release of The Robe by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1953 brought about a revolution in motion picture production and exhibition practices that had profound implications for national industries across the world. It was the first film released in the company’s proprietary anamorphic widescreen format, CinemaScope, which, by fundamentally altering the size and shape of the projected image, represented one of a number of industry initiatives aimed at retaining audiences being lost to television. The rapid development of competing widescreen formats by Fox’s competitors in Hollywood and interests in other parts of the world was at least as significant to film aesthetics and the economics of the global industry as the transition to sound and colour. Several features of the Japanese film industry of the 1950s meant that the transition to widescreen occurred several years later, with the first such production, The Bride of Otori Castle, released by Toei in 1957. Nevertheless, following the development by each of Japan’s major studios of their own branded widescreen systems, its adoption was a lot more abrupt and absolute than that of other national industries, and its usage persisted until a relatively late stage. We are accustomed to looking at Japanese cinema at the level of individual titles. However, by detailing the peculiarities of the domestic film industry, its vertically-integrated structure, its relationship to television, its vast levels of production and its importance as an exhibition market for Hollywood, I detail the reasons as to why the Japanese industry embraced widescreen formats to such a significant extent. Furthermore, I explore the degree to which Japanese filmmakers have drawn upon traditional modes of visual representation to result in a widescreen aesthetic that has been singled out for attention by many overseas commentators.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Jasper Sharp
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2014 09:17
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2016 11:52
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5606

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