Japanese Film As A Lens Essay

Japanese Film As A Lens Essay

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Japanese film serves as a lens through which one observe Japan’s shifting culture in the era of the post-war period; specifically one can trace the changing social perceptions and obligations of women. Departures is a prime film to examine the role of women within Japanese society due to the variety of women it offers up for analysis within and outside of the film. While Departures has a male director and is not overtly dealing with women, Daigo is consistently guided and influenced by the women in the film, who are featured much more prominently in both major and minor roles. This film speaks to large universal themes and questions such as death and family, however Takita uses specific Japanese customs and filial traditions to frame these questions and offers the films female cast as both representations and manifestations of the changing social climate around the roles of women. In each instance of the dissolution of the family, the role of the mother or wife changes and due to the variety of female characters we are given a more varied perspective of the role of women within Japanese society that truly represents post-war Japanese ideology in that these women break down traditional filial roles and give way to modernized concepts of womanhood and all that encompasses.
Mika complicates the narrative of traditional wife and mother in that she is in state of limbo by being pregnant while also holding equal weight and power in the relationship as Daigo. Early on from the film it is established that Daigo perceives Mika as his equal in addition to being his wife and when she discovers her pregnancy, Mika’s future motherhood does not take up her entire identity as a woman but rather adds another layer to it, making her a multi-faced...


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... necessary to create depth and a strong, essential narrative. While the film does the work of deconstructing the bias against women in film, the view is left to absorb these characters and appreciate them as the strong figures they are without reducing them to or denying them of their womanhood. This turn towards modern feminism represents a trend of post-war Japanese film towards globalization and anticipating the role of international film festivals in the films demographic. While Takita sets up the film against the universally accessible themes of death, honor and questions of womanhood, he also teases the specifics out with predominantly Japanese cultural references. The end product is a film that resonates with everyone, but rings particularly true to Japanese culture, while nodding its head to the changing nature of Japanese womanhood and all that encompasses.

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