Kissing Scenes in the Representation of Family in Post-war Japanese Films

Abstract

Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse are well-known Japanese filmmakers who depict the “everyday life” (nichijo in Japanese) of family in the post-war period. Their ways of presenting “everyday life” are characterized by the exclusion of violent and sexual expressions. However, exceptionally, there are kissing scenes in their films and they form unusual expressions. Focusing on kissing scenes in Ozu’s The Munekata Sisters (1950) and Early Spring (1956), and Naruse’s Floating Clouds (1955) and Scattered Clouds (1967), this paper examines how these scenes function in their attempts to depict the “everyday life.” By analyzing the kissing scenes in relation to plots and visual shots, I will show that these scenes function as what disrupts the stability of “everyday life,” that is to say, as the representation of “the extraordinary” (hinichijo). Here “the extraordinary” involves disquieting events that disturb the continuous rhythm of “everyday life” and has negative images associated with adultery, prostitution, or sexual violence. Many previous studies on kissing scenes in post-war Japanese films have examined their reception by the contemporaries from a sociohistorical perspective. For example, Kyoko Hirano’s Kiss and the Emperor (1998) observes that the kissing scenes introduced into Japanese films by GHQ and their reception reflect the idea of romantic love and sexual freedom in the context of post-war democracy. But this paper will explore the meaning of kissing scenes by looking at the relation between “everyday life” (“the ordinary”) and “the extraordinary” which lies at the basis of the films of Ozu and Naruse.



Author Information
Yui Hayakawa, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2021
Stream: Film Studies

This paper is part of the KAMC2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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