Effect of the Second World War on The Cinema of Japan

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Arguably the most world changing event in history, the Second World War had a huge effect in cinema around the world. These effects can are perhaps most apparent in the cinema of Japan as the country was impacted greatly by the war. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent capitulation of Japan changed the morals and the psyche of its people almost completely leaving a big mark in Japanese culture which is quite evident when looking the films made in the country during the post war period. The war changed every genre in Japanese cinema, introducing new themes and tones which were quite uncommon in pre-war and war times.
The political situation in Japan changed completely after the war. Following Japan’s defeat it was occupied by American forces and was now run by the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers, in an attempt to transform the Japanese. SCAP made a lot of changes in Japan including building new Universities and changing the constitution (Bordwell and Thompson 2002). SCAP also went on to censor the Japanese film industry to fit the new vision for the Japanese society and would not allow certain themes and topics. Japan’s vertically integrated studio system which is one of the oldest of its kind, predating the Hollywood and European studios had managed to survive the war intact as movies were used as war propaganda during WWII. Ones the war was over the studios ‘films underwent extensive censorship in order to be released to the public. Samurai dramas and most films that had to do with the war were banned as they had themes of nobility and self sacrifice. What is more films that directly dealt with the war did not start coming out until after the occupation was over and the censorship was removed. Seen as ma...

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...g it all the more effective in criticising both sides of this conflict, while retaining impartiality to some extent.
Examining Japanese films of the time it is undoubted that the Second World War had a really big and lasting impact on the country and it’s movie industry with themes of war, devastation and suffering continued to take central parts in Japanese narratives for decades and are not uncommon even today.

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