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Beyond Imperial AestheticsTheories of Art and Politics in East Asia$
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Mayumo Inoue and Steve Choe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455874

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455874.001.0001

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The Turn to Japan and Return to War

The Turn to Japan and Return to War

(p.77) 3 The Turn to Japan and Return to War
Beyond Imperial Aesthetics

Akira Mizuta Lippit

Hong Kong University Press

From Sophia Coppola's independent Lost in Translation (2003) to Clint Eastwood's Warner Brothers film Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Japan and Japanese culture have served as geographical and historical locations, generating a transnational aesthetic that unsettles the foundations of what might be called a national cinema. Spanning independent and studio productions, each film is distinctly American, even if the terms of that distinctness differ from film to film. What is reflected in this constellation of films is not only Japan, not only the idea of Japan (of Japaneseness), but the idea of Japan through the Japanese cinema: an image of an image, of a cinema transposed from one national cinema to another. The image of Japan that appears in these films is the image of an image, the referent an image of a country and not the country as such. Japan is imagined through its cinema, an invention of its cinema, which is reflected as a projection in these films. What appears is thus an imaginary Japan, a synthetic Japan transformed through the apparatus of cinema and spectatorship into an image of Japan: a becoming that passes through cinema and that transforms viewers into Japanese, which is to say, it renders them imperceptible.

Keywords:   Identity, Subjectivity, Mirroring, Estrangement, Japaneseness

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