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Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan - The United States in the World (Hardback)
  • Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan - The United States in the World (Hardback)

Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan - The United States in the World (Hardback)

Hardback 280 Pages / Published: 20/05/2010
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During the six-and-a-half-year occupation of Japan (1945-1952), U.S. film studios-in close coordination with Douglas MacArthur's Supreme Command for the Allied Powers-launched an ambitious campaign to extend their power and influence in a historically rich but challenging film market. In this far-reaching "enlightenment campaign," Hollywood studios disseminated more than six hundred films to theaters, earned significant profits, and showcased the American way of life as a political, social, and cultural model for the war-shattered Japanese population.

In Screening Enlightenment, Hiroshi Kitamura shows how this expansive attempt at cultural globalization helped transform Japan into one of Hollywood's key markets. He also demonstrates the prominent role American cinema played in the "reeducation" and "reorientation" of the Japanese on behalf of the U.S. government. According to Kitamura, Hollywood achieved widespread results by turning to the support of U.S. government and military authorities, which offered privileged deals to American movies while rigorously controlling Japanese and other cinematic products. The presentation of American ideas and values as an emblem of culture, democracy, and sophistication also allowed the U.S. film industry to expand. However, the studios' efforts would not have been nearly as extensive without the Japanese intermediaries and consumers who interestingly served as the program's best publicists.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, from studio memos and official documents of the occupation to publicity materials and Japanese fan magazines, Kitamura shows how many Japanese supported Hollywood and became active agents of Americanization. A truly interdisciplinary book that combines U.S. diplomatic and cultural history, film and media studies, and modern Japanese history, Screening Enlightenment offers new insights into the origins of this unique political and cultural transpacific relationship.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801445996
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm


"American moviemakers had to tread carefully with the American military and governmental occupation authorities if they were to expect to be able to penetrate the newly opened market for their films in postwar Japan. In sum, filmmakers were secondary players in a game of very serious hardball. Kitamura provides vivid glimpses into what qualities in specific American movies appealed to Japanese critics and audiences. He describes how, as the Japanese spirit revived, lively movie discussion groups sprang up in Japan. Recommended."

* Choice *

"Hiroshi Kitamura has written an excellent overview of the role played by Hollywood films in shaping the cultural reconstruction of Japan during the American occupation. His book reflects wide reading in Japanese sources, the research of film scholars, and current scholarship of American occupation policy.... This fine book will be of value not only to diplomatic and military historians but also to persons interested in the American occupation of Germany, as so many parallels are implicit in it."

-- David Culbert * Journal of American History *

"In addition to his significant contribution to diplomatic history and U.S. relations with Japan, Kitamura adds to our understanding of Japanese history in the critical period after the war.... What he details so carefully through his examination of the Central Motion Picture Exchange (CMPE) and the Eiga no tomo, among other organizations and entities, is how Japanese came to embrace the carefully scripted and edited manner in which American films were reintroduced to Japan during the occupation."

-- T. Christopher Jespersen * H-Diplo Roundtable Review *

"Kitamura shows that Hollywood and SCAP [the occupying authorities led by General Douglas MacArthur] were at loggerheads almost as often as they were in harmony.... SCAP censorship caused problems for American films as various as Frank Capra's political fable, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, unseen in Japan during the Occupation due to its portrayal of corruption in US politics, to the Tyrone Power swashbuckler, The Mark of Zorro, which in an era when samurai films were practically banned, was criticized for its portrayal of swordplay as a 'fine and fashionable art of killing.'... His book sheds new light on a neglected aspect of Occupation history."

-- Alexander Jacoby * Times Literary Supplement *

"Kitamura's book is a new contribution to the field of cinema in occupied Japan in covering such diverse groups as the American film distributor, the Central Motion Picture Exchange (CMPE); Japanese exhibitors and movie theaters; 'cultural elites' including critics, journalists, and scholars; and moviegoers. Attention to all these groups allows readers to see the complicated dynamics in which Hollywood films become the icon of democracy and modernity in occupied Japan.... It can be highly recommended to all scholars and students of the US occupation of Japan, film history, and Japanese cultural and intellectual history."

-- Yuka Tsuchiya * Social Science Japan Journal *

"Kitamura's thoroughly researched and immensely readable book mainly combines approaches of historical research and film studies. It is based on an admirable range of both US and Japanese source materials and consists of a concise methodological preface and eight thematically arranged chapters.... The fact that Screening Enlightenment undoubtedly will inspire such future studies that further examine the fascinating issues it raises, may very well be one of its most important merits."

-- Harald Salomon * Pacific Affairs *

"Hiroshi Kitamura offers an insightful consideration of the U.S. film industry's efforts in Japan. He is attentive to not only American cultural dealings with Japan but also Japan's engagement with and influence on the world's cinema."

-- Andrew Gordon, Harvard University, author of A Modern History of Japan

"In Screening Enlightenment, Hiroshi Kitamura investigates not only the ideologies driving U.S. policymaking but also their effects on those at the receiving end of those policies. Kitamura offers an excellent, deeply researched, and smoothly written combination of international business history, Japanese film history, cultural history, and diplomatic history."

-- Naoko Shibusawa, Brown University, author of America's Geisha Ally

"Kitamura successfully uses case studies to explore the way in which American films were marketed and received in Japan, and how they shaped the Japanese postwar experience.... Screening Enlightenment sheds new light on a neglected part of Occupation history."

-- Alexander Jacoby, Times Literary Supplement

"Thoroughly researched and carefully crafted, this book provides the first comprehensive study of movie entertainment in post-1945 Japan. As a teenager then living in Tokyo, I remember being deeply impressed with such Hollywood productions as Madame Curie, The Yearling, and Little Women. I am grateful that this book helps me understand how these and other movies were selected for showing in Japan, how Hollywood collaborated with U.S. occupation authorities in the process, and how Japan's postwar cultural elites looked to the Hollywood film as a crucial instrument for reconstructing their country and developing a close understanding of, and ties to, the United States. Screening Enlightenment is a valuable addition to the literature on post-World War II history."

-- Akira Iriye, Harvard University

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