Added: January 2, 2016 – Last updated: January 2, 2016


Author: Bianca Otilia Briciu

Title: Negotiating Power

Subtitle: Gender and Body Politics in the New Wave Japanese Cinema

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, Carleton University

Advisor: Mitsuyo Wade-Marciano

Year: 2012

Pages: v + 227pp.

ISBN-13: 9780494942116 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | Asian History: Japanese History | Representations: Films / Akai Satsui


Link: Curve: Carleton University Research Virtual Environment (Free Access)



»I analyze in this dissertation films about women made by Imamura Shohei, Yoshida Kiju and Hani Susumu, three representative figures of the New Wave Japanese cinema, arguing that these films make visible gender and body politics in postwar Japan. They explore the cultural construction of female bodies through the representation of the body as an interface between individual subjectivity and cultural norms, politicizing both sexuality and the medium of cinema. In my analysis of the films I will outline the duality between the look and the gaze and I will demonstrate that these filmmakers construct an ethical form of representation that recognizes the alterity of women. My analysis is informed by phenomenological theories that explore bodies as interconnected ways of being in the world and a feminist analysis o f power concerned with the disciplining of female bodies.
The main argument of the dissertation is that these three directors perform a negotiation of gender power inherent in the institution of cinema through a selfreflexive cinematic style that critiques the power of the male gaze. Imamura, Yoshida and Hani regard cinema as a mode o f intersubjective engagement with the world based on an ethical negotiation of gender power. Their ethical position involves an encounter with female alterity that disrupts the filmmaker’s illusory position of omnipotence or the power of the gaze as a gendered mechanism of oppression. The representation of the female body involves both desire and responsibility, a duality inherent in their films as the interlacing of the gaze with the look. This duality makes it possible for the three filmmakers to explore female bodies not only as objects of male desire, but also as the foundations of female subjectivity. The films represent women’s version of the body as political struggle against repressive ideological forces of society, in contrast to the dominant postwar male discourse of the body as source of pleasure and liberation.
My case studies will be Imamura’s two fiction films: Insect Woman (1963) and Intentions of Murder (1964), Imamura’s two documentaries: The History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (1970) and Karayuki-san, the Making of a Prostitute (1973), Yoshida’s Eros Plus Massacre (1969) and Hani’s Nanami, the Inferno of First Love (1968).« (Source: Thesis)


  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter One. Bodies as Subjects and Objects-An Interdisciplinary Consideration of Gendered Bodies in Cinema (p. 20)
  Chapter Two. Rituals of Disciplining the Female Body: Prostitution and Rape in Imamura Shōhei's Insect Woman (Nippon konchūki, 1963) and Intentions of Murder (Akai satsui, 1964) (p. 35)
    Film, Power and Anthropology (p. 39)
    Insect Woman - The Exchange Value of the Female Body (p. 46)
    The Female Body in Japan's Rural and Urban Context: Sexual Freedom Versus Alienation? (p. 49)
    Prostitution and Alienation (p. 58)
    Pain, the Female Body and the Reproduction of Cruelty (p. 61)
    Women's Patriarchy? (p. 65)
    2. At the Frontier of the Skin: Rape and Body Politics in Intentions of Murder (p. 68)
    Rape at the Intersection of Institutional Forms of Violence (p. 69)
    Pariarchal Power and Female Resilience (p. 71)
    Flashbacks: The Female Self in the Sinfully Sexual Female Body (p. 74)
    The Scene of Rape: The Desirable Unconscious Female Body (p. 77)
    Not A Love Story: Denaturalizing Female Masochism (p. 81)
    The Harm of Rape: Destruction of Self, Body, Social Status? (p. 89)
    Visual Metaphors and the Actress as Body (p. 93)
    Realistic and Avant-Garde Tropes-The Desire for Cinema as an Objective Scientific Tool for Grasping Women's Reality (p. 97)
    Conclusion (p. 102)
  Chapter Three. The Female Body as Boundary of the Nation: Embodying the Postwar in Imamura Shōhei’s Documentaries: The History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (Nippon sengoshi, madamu Onboro no seikatsu 1970) and Karayuki san, The Making of a Prostitute (Karayuki-san, 1973) (p. 104)
    Embodying the Director (p. 105)
    Documentary as Oral History: Female Voice and the Deconstruction of Visual Truth (p. 108)
    The Voice as Source of Interiority (p. 109)
    Eroticism and Ethics of the Image (p. 111)
    Karayuki-san, Personal Memories as a Discourse of Sobriety (p. 117)
    Emotion versus Truth: Melodrama and Documentary (p. 121)
    The Female Body as Object in Japan's Transnational History (p. 124)
    Deconstructing the Homogenous National History (p. 125)
    Cinematic Ironies: Kokutai and Nikutai Discourses (p. 126)
    Madame Onboro's Body: Performing Sexual and Racial Politics (p. 135)
    Conclusion (p. 139)
  Chapter Four. Bodies in Time: The Politics of Love, Sex and Freedom in Yoshida Kiju’s Eros + Massacre (Erosu +gyakusatsu, 1969) (p. 141)
    Mutually Interacting Subject Bodies: The Director and the Actress (p. 144)
    The 1960s Free Sex and the Body as Object of Desire (p. 150)
    Visual Negotiation in the 1920s-Free Love as a Political Tool (p. 161)
    Bodies in Continuous Time-In Search of a Feminist Legacy (p. 172)
    Conclusion (p. 179)
  Chapter Five. Love and Power, The Appropriation of the Adolescent Body in Hani Susumu’s Nanami, Inferno of First Love (Nanami, hatsukoi jigokuhen, 1968) (p. 180)
    Nakedness and Nudity, The Body in Itself and the Body on Display (p. 185)
    Love and its Shadow (p. 195)
    Cabbages, Onions and Performativity (p. 200)
    Male Trauma and the Wounds on the Female Body (p. 203)
    Conclusion (p. 207)
  Conclusion (p. 210)
  Bibliography (p. 220)
    Filmography (p. 227)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of Japan | Film: Cinema of Japan / Unholy Desire