Daisuke Miyao, "The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema" (Duke UP, 2013)


In The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema (Duke UP, 2013), Daisuke Miyao explores a history of light and its absence in Japanese cinema. A commentary on the history of modernity, the book considers how an aesthetics of shadow emerged from a Japanese modern that was fundamentally transnational. A fascinating history of film, the book guides readers through the emergence and transformations of new dramatic genres and new ways of being a movie star in modern Japan. A corrective to the tendency to valorize directors in cinematic histories, the book gives voice to the cinematographers and other craftsmen of light and shadow who shaped the cinema of Japan through the mid-twentieth century. It is a wonderful story of flashing swords, sensual glances, battling movie studios, and tensions between technologies and aesthetics of illumination that alternately concealed and revealed. The Aesthetics of Shadow also treats us to close readings of some wonderful Japanese films that were a revelation for this reader: have YouTube handy as Miyao introduces you to Crossways (Jujiro) and That Night's Wife, guiding your eye to visual traces that reveal broader histories of blindness, surveillance, and the tactile. Enjoy!

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