Chromophobia and Chromophilia in Japanese Cinema

David Pinho Barros (Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto)
Miguel Patrício (FCSH-UNL)
Luís Mendonça (Instituto de História de Arte, FCSH/NOVA)
Sabrina D. Marques (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Visual Arts
Torre B, Piso 5, Auditório 3
Start time:
1 September, 2017 at 16:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel wishes to unite distinct takes on an oft-neglected topic within the field of Japanese films studies: the use of colour. It intends to focus on three different periods and examine the phenomena of rejection and attraction colour has inspired in several filmmakers of paramount consequence.

Long abstract:

Colour has always been a stylistic element of capital importance for the understanding of film history and aesthetics, but in the case of Japan it is particularly significant, since it is closely associated with chief paradigm shifts within individual filmographies, but also considering the nation's film history as a whole. Serious attention has been recently paid to this subject, namely with the influential two-part film season of the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna. Some well-known articles on the topic, such as Nagisa Oshima's "Banishing Green", have also been published in the West, integrated, for example, in the acclaimed 2006 Routledge anthology "Color, the Film Reader". However, much is to be done in the scholarly analysis of this rich field, especially when it comes to relating the use of these elements with the phenomena of rejection and attraction. In fact, colour was not pacifically integrated in the Japanese film industry, having found notorious resistance by many production companies and directors on the grounds of its technical incipiency and aesthetic poverty. Nonetheless, although the country had to wait until 1951 (sixteen years after the pioneering American film "Becky Sharp") for the first colour feature to be released, Keisuke Kinoshita's "Carmen Comes Home" immediately set the tone for what would be the history of colour in national cinema: an infinitely complex creative adventure. Chromatic options varied greatly from director to director, from period to period and even from film to film within the filmmakers' careers, and these fluctuations are the core interests of this panel. They will mainly be studied according to concepts which have revolutionised colour studies, specifically the notion to which David Batchelor gave a new life in his 2000 book "Chromophobia". In this work, the British artist and professor dissects what he sees as the chromophobic impulses of Western culture, and we defend that it is fundamental to establish a rich dialogue with the late introduction of colour in Japanese film and filmographies, as well as to analyse the opposite experience, that of the programmatic and wildly innovative embracing of colour by certain Japanese filmmakers.