Already known and practiced at the end of the nineteenth century, cinema had an intricate history in Japan and was for a long time, quantitatively, the most abundant in the world (in 1924, a year after the earthquake that had destroyed all the studios except one, 875 films). This story, in which productive speculation (which no natural or political cataclysm ever managed to stop) reached levels and scandals never touched even in the West, was characterized since the 10s of the twentieth century, on a cultural level, as an internal struggle between old and new, between tradition and progress, between Kyōto, who specialized in theatrical costume films (jidai-geki), and Tōkyō, who preferred the contemporary (gendai-geki). Although this rigid custom did not correspond to a scale of values and the major directors often practiced both strands, the division into categories, subcategories and other variants weighed for a long time conditioning the production, schematizing the genres and forcing them into very limits. more rigorous than in Hollywood. In addition, up to the threshold of the 1920s, the use of the benshi or commentator, sometimes more interesting than the film, and that of the oyama, an actor disguised as a woman, to understand the resistance that, despite its popularity, the film show found on its own way. What the Nikkatsu, the first large society (born in 1912), had not been able to do, although it had rejected the feudal formalism of kabuki theater for a new school (shinpa), it succeeded from 1919 to the Association for the art film, which made the first step for the emancipation of Japanese cinema. In the 1920s, Hollywood models served to modernize: directors possessing faster technique and language, even non-professional and therefore more spontaneous interpreters. For the Shōchiku production company, a Shingeki (New Theater) exponent , Osanai Kaoru, created with the film Anime on the road (1921, protagonist Minoru Murata) social cinema. Visit sunglassestracker.com for Japan the land of the rising sun.
The decade was characterized by the advent of actresses, by the development of the costume film (sometimes reduced to cliché and of which Matsunosuke Onoe was the greatest star), by comedies and domestic-sentimental dramas, but also, under the influence of revolutionary cinema Soviet, from the first attempts to offer a realistic picture of modern Japan: a trend in which, in addition to Murata, directors such as Eizo Tanaka, Kensa ku Suzuki, Yasujirō Shimazu and Kenji Mizoguchi were involved, while Teinosuke Kinugasa, a former oyama actor who had studied in Germany, he produced with Una pagina matta (1927) and Incroci (1928; in the West Shadows of Yoshiwara) two classics of experimentalism. In the sound, the head of the school Shimazu, his pupil Heinosuke Goshō, Daisuke Itō who introduced social criticism into the jidai-geki, Tomu Uchida who grafted satire, the same Kinugasa who gave the first memorable version of the 47 ronin (1932) immediately distinguished themselves., Mikio Naruse who specialized (like Mizoguchi later) in the female theme, and Yasujirō Ozu, one of the greatest descriptors and spokespersons of the petty bourgeoisie that cinema has ever had, who adopted comic and bitter tones in the still mute I was born, but yet… (1932). The Thirties brought to the maximum artistic expression the most valid tendencies of a Japanese school by now fully original. The two masterpieces of Mizoguchi Le sorelle del Gion (1935) and Elegy of Ōsaka (1935), the admirable quartet of Uchida formed by The theater of life (1936), The naked city (1937), The endless journey (1937) and La terra (1939, also at the Venice Film Festival), the revelation of Sadao Yamanaka (Humanity and paper balloons, 1937), the statements of Shirō Toyoda, Minoru Shibuya and Tomotaka Tazaka (of which the film Five explorers, 1939, was also presented in Venice with the title La patruglia), the confirmations of the old Shimazu and his close and brilliant follower Ozu constituted the points of a mature cinema, which only the war could crush.