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Japanese Society


The Japan Society for centuries was characterized by a pronounced class’s stratification. Before World War II, there were noble families with inherited titles and a few very rich families, which controlled large industrial syndicates. In the cities, the influential figures were shopkeepers and other independent businesses, while in rural areas the dominant position was occupied by the landlords. After the Second World War, all the titles except of the titles of Imperial Family were abolished. Because of the collapse of the industrial syndicates, their former owners lost their sources of wealth and agrarian reform has deprived the landowners without the great part of their land holdings that have fallen to the tenants and other farmers in the form of small plots. That is why it is important to analyze the two views on Japanese society, which have emerged after the Second World War.

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Japan cinema. Historical view

The Japanese society in the end if 40s-50-s was on the verge of social crises and it is represented in the Japanese cinematography. The film "Stray dog", a filmed by Akira Kurosawa in 1949 has a number of features of the film noir and represents a postwar collapse of society. It is also interesting, that in the film “Stray Dog” there is an actor play of katsuben. The second film is a "Tokyo Story", film of the Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, filmed in 1953. It has the totally different shape and is about the new, young Japanese society. To compare these two films as a display of the state of society in the post-war Japan, it should be understood that the Japanese cinematography has developed by the laws of the theater. The manner of acting, costumes and scenery were theatrical; as well as in the traditional Kabuki Theater, all female roles in the 19-th century were played by men. In the era of "subsonic Cinema" films were accompanied by benshi (or katsuben) - live performers Unlike European tapers, they commented, explaining the action happening on the screen. Facial expressions and gestures of the Japanese are in many ways different from the European’s one. Japanese audience watching the heroine’s intensive mimic often, especially in the 90s of the 19th century - could not understand, that feelings this should express. Therefore, katsuben had to explain to the audience that this character is currently is experiencing. There was one more difficult for understanding thing. Whatever the situation on the screen is, it is associated, for non-Japanese, with a specific verbal content. For the Japanese, first, all the gestures and movements can differ from those from the other cultures; Second, words which are spoken at the same time, is usually much different from those which are spoken in other cultures. Therefore katsuben had not only just to explain what the situation is, for example, the declaration of love, but in order to prevent misunderstandings and comic effects, even to explain, what "he" or "she" at this moment are saying. Thus, such a simple explanation has gradually turned into the kind of actor performance out of the film. For greater naturalness, katsuben have been changing the voice: bass for transmitting of the speech of villains, tenor - for the heroes, falsetto – for the heroin. In connection with this, the katsuben’s role soon have changed. They turned into a special kind of actors, their explanations become a special kind of declamatory art. In the film “Stray Dog”, katsuben is often explains the events on the screen. During the American occupation pf Japan (1945-1952), historical drama was censored. For example, it was forbidden to film the scene in movie with use of swords, as contrary to the idea of anti-militarism. However, at the same time, there appeared the supported by the American movie styles, such as noir and detective. The golden age of Japanese cinema considered to be at the 1950s. This can be explained by the appearance of the so-called "Big Six", represented by six leading Japanese film companies - "Shochiku", "Toho", "Dayey", "Toei", "Nikkatsu" and "Sintoho". After the Second World War, a large number of documentaries have appeared in Japan. By the end of 1950s, the Japan have ranked the first place in the world in the production of films. The world-wide famous Japanese movies have received because of the director Akira Kurosawa, whose film "Rashomon" won the "Golden Lion" at the Venice Film Festival.

Historical dimension of the interpersonal relations in the "Stray dog"

In the "Stray dog", are extremely important the historical excursions and the psychological drama of the protagonist as it shows the Japanese society from the perspective of the former soldier, who returned from war and is fighting for his place in the after war society. An experienced police Tokyo detective Sato, gets a young trainee, Goro Murakami (played by Toshiro Mifune). During his way to the work, Goro’s service weapon was stolen. While Murakami was seeking the stolen gun, a murder done with use of this weapon occurs. In desperation, Murakami decided to take extreme measures - to disguising himself as a demobilized military, and portraying extreme need, he gets in contact with the arms dealers. Therefore, he manages to find the trail of a thief and a killer. In the final pursuit, a thief wounds Sato, but Murakami manages to catch the offender. During the story, similarities between the fate of the police officer and of the criminal becomes clear, which underlines the difference in their characters. Thus, the main idea of the film lies in the choice of the life of two young people caught up in similar circumstances, but who made different choices. Goro Murakami, returning home from a lost war was robbed and left with nothing. Having survived the crisis of his personality, he entered the police academy in order to fight the crime. He has fully accepted responsibility for own life and for himself, stopped blaming others for his failures and became a worthy man. His antagonist, was in a similar situation, but he did not want to take responsibility for his own life and became a criminal. It allowed him to get easily what he wanted and not to think about the consequences of his actions. Stolen from Goro pistol have felt into Yusa’s hands, who have chosen a criminal path. The entire film the detective is searching for a missing gun, facing the sketches of various aspects of the criminal life of Japan in the mid XX on his way. The film tells about the fate of post-war Japan, the crisis of the young people returned from the war and its impact on the psychology of people. The film is literally saturated with the idea of responsibility and the need to follow own principles, that expresses by the main character.

Family relations in the Japan in the period of The Japanese economic miracle

The film “Tokyo Story” grants with a great view on the family relation in the modernized Japan society. This film touches the theme of the responsibility of the children before their prances, before the social opinion and states the problem of the relations between the youth and the elder generation. Yasujiro Ozu has built his story in very simple manner, telling the story of an ordinary family, about a brief visit of elderly parents in Tokyo, to their children and grandchildren. Ozu very clearly noticed a certain coolness, prudence and pragmatism, which came from the children and the stoic acceptance of this fact by parents. Ozu brings up a simple spectator, but at the same time brilliant thoughts and ideas. As the grandparents arrive, children are too busy to deal with them, and send them to the resort. After a sleepless night on the busy resort, parents are returning to Tokyo. When the parents are suddenly coming back, one of the characters meets them almost with hatred; such a kind of contempt for the elderly couple was soon observed almost by all youth. Before leaving, grandmother spends the night with the widow of another son, and the grandfather meets with his old drinking buddies. The film is about the relationship between three generations. Parents, children and grandchildren. The film touches a very important topic. It is so important that it is quite extensive. Anywhere and everywhere occur cases where children are indifferent to their parents, and they just forget about them. In this film, when grandparents came home to the children, and they show them that they are allegedly happy to see them, their faces, their gestures and phrases shows that all these feelings strained and artificial. The same does the grandparents, they seem to show that they have spent a good time, but really in their hearts there is lurking terrible pain because of the indifference of their children. In the beginning of movie, they were truly feeling a happiness because of meeting, at the end of the film, it was artificial and it was perfectly shown. Thus, the "Tokyo Story" is a perfect example of the Japanese view of the changes that have occurred in their society in the period of the rebirth of Japan. Traditional Japanese values have crashed, but the new one did not yet formed. Such events can be considered as an echo of the results of the Second World War for the Japanese.

The comparison of the society of Japan in the 40s-50-s through the comparison of films

The “Stray Dog” and the “Tokyo Story” are about the relations in the Japanese society, shaped by the influence of the World War. However, the inner idea differs for each of them. Worlds of both films are very similar and also very different. Goro, who becomes a witness of the postwar ruined world. Adhering to the idea of understanding the samurai honor, he encounters a fallen people, who could not endure the hardships of wartime ruin. His world - a world without masks. Every character in the film is drawn as much as it is possible relevant to reality. They live a life of losers, being on the border between madness and depression. While in the second film “Tokyo Story”, events take place in the period of free Japan when major shocks have already been passed and the society is beginning the process of development. At the very beginning of the film can be seen quiet rural scenery locality that simply exudes an atmosphere of peace and prosperity. All the talk and all the issues raised in the film are as slowly as the peaceful life of the characters. However, both these films have something similar in their basis. This atmosphere of fear and bitterness of defeat. It is manifested by masks of acceptance on grandparents, and by the attempts of children to isolate themselves from them, by full of emotional closeness of investigator and police, by deviant civil behavior of the society. These movies are filmed in a generation, moreover, with a difference of 4 years. However, they are so similar, as they are different. In "Tokyo story" the story is about the post-war society, which has already formed and is still in many respects is not perfect. While the "Stray dog", there is a story about the people who still do not understand what kind of society they will create. This film is about people who are only making their first steps on the road to recovery. Thus, it should be stated that according to this two films, it is possible to observe how striking are the differences, which occurred in the Japan society during the after war years.

The Amae influence

In order to understand, what shapes the interpersonal relations of the characters shown on screen, the concept of the amae has to be used. Amae - theory, according to which one of the parties in the relationship relies on the indulgence of its weaknesses from the second party. In the book "Structure amae", Japanese psychiatrist Takeo Doi has proposed the concept of Amae in 1971. According to the author, it is a key concept for understanding the nature of the Japanese nation, as the word "amae" which can be translated as "dependent on the benevolence of others," has no exact equivalent in other languages. Amae is needed to get along with the Japanese, as a basis for creating any harmonious relationship in the country in which the children are dependent on their parents, young rely on the senior and elderly members of the community are counting on the help of their adult children . Thus, amaeru carries a sense of genuine sweetness and is commonly used in describing the relationship of the child with his mother. In Japan, only when it is six months old, child is begin to feels "amaeru”. Therefore, amaeru describes affectionate behavior of any child relying on the love of their parents. This sense of emotional dependency can exist between adults (husband and wife, boss and subordinate). This theory is applicable to Japan, because Japanese society relations are based on a strict hierarchy. The psychological significance of the emperor position in Japanese society in the past brought to the fact that in the minds of many Japanese he took the real responsibility upon himself for the behavior of individuals, at the same time leaving the people all the appearance of power over themselves, with the impression that the desire to "amaeru" will be satisfied. At the same time the emperor himself, in turn, was in the position of almost complete child, depending on their environment, while being at the top of hierarchy level. In the context of the movie, Goro experiences amae when taking on himself the responsibility for a stolen gun and committed murder with the help of it. On the other hand, the grandparents are also experiencing amae when they mask their true feelings after the actions of their children.

Concluding, it should be said that both films are revealing an understanding of post-war society of Japan. Each film has its own palette values and deep meanings. In each of weakly pronounced facial expressions and emotions of the characters them are hidden a lot of meanings. Each of the selected films can show the Japanese society in the form in which it was seen by the Japanese of that period of history. However, to fully understand what is happening on the screen, it should be viewed through the prism such thing as amae, which explains why Goro began with such persistence to look for his gun, why the parents left, having mask put on faces. When viewing these films from amae position, their meaning is changing and the other understanding of those events is formed. In the film “Stray Dog” the amae position shows the whole burden of the guilty of Goro before the society. In this film amae is related with hyperresponsibility, which accepts Goro before the society as the weaker one before the child before a guardian. In the film “Tokyo Story” the position of amae gives an understanding of why grandparents were hiding they true fillings. In amae, the elder generation is relying on the young one. Moreover, they are afraid of breaking of such a relations. Exactly this was hidden under the mask of grandparents, when they were leaving their children. I addition, from the position of amae it can be understandable, the dialogue of grandmother with the widow of her son, when they with smile on the face is speaking about whether her son have ever beaten her. It is the usual in amae, when the one who is higher in the hierarchy acts aggressively with subordinates. Thus both films are showing the story of honor through amae, which is shaped in form of family relations and in form of honor before the society. This films are showing the perplexity of the people, who used to rely on the society and Emperor in their actions and who were deprived of such a relation because of the occupation. The difference is in the time line of this films. The “Stray Dog” shows the period of panic because of the crash of the old system, and the “Tokyo Story” shows the period of formation of the new society.

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