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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay focuses on the topic of “adaptation” to argue that Japanese cinema has been less bound by traditional culture than by low culture in general, and Hollywood film in particular. Focusing on the 1930s, it shows Japanese studios shamelessly imitating Hollywood technologies and Japanese filmmakers (most prominently Ozu Yasujiro) shamelessly appropriating Hollywood genres as part of an ambivalent project of “transcultural mimesis.” As the geopolitical incline between the United States and the rest of the world levels out, the concept of transcultural mimesis draws more broadly on contemporary critical discourse than on Miriam Hansen’s text-based “vernacular modernism” to remind us that cinema on the margins of the world film system has always been a form of adaptation, from something closely identified with the West into something more ambiguous that could split the difference between homage and parody, and sometimes even become an instrument of reflexive understanding.

Keywords: adaptation, appropriation, Hollywood, Ozu Yasujiro, sound version, geopolitical incline, shamelessness, vernacular modernism, transcultural mimesis

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