Dr Alexander Jacoby, senior lecturer for the undergraduate Japanese Studies programme, has co-curated the concluding instalment of a two-year programme of Japanese colour cinema at the Cinema Ritrovato Film Festival in Bologna, Italy. The programme, organised in collaboration with the National Film Center, Tokyo, offered a broad variety of early Japanese colour films, from pre-war experimentation to the colour masterpieces of the late 1950’s.
The widespread use of colour in commercial film began in the post-war years; however experiments with colour process had been undertaken in the 1930’s. The earliest film chosen by Dr Jacoby and his co-curator, Johan Nordström, was a new restoration of ‘Senninbari’ (1937) which used a pioneering two-strip colour process.
The rest of the programme explored various manifestations of colour cinema in the 1950s, spanning seven years from the first commercial full-length feature film in colour, Keisuke Kinoshita’s ‘Karumen kokyo ni kaeru’ (Carmen Comes Home, 1951), to the same director’s flamboyant historical fable, ‘Narayama bushiko’ (The Ballad of Narayama, 1958), with its colour schemes inspired by traditional theatre and arts.
The films screened illustrated various colour processes including the imported Eastmancolor and the indigenous Fujicolor and Konicolor formats. At the festival there was a particular focus on Konicolor which featured in three of the films included in the programme and was able vividly to reproduce a broad range of colours and shades. The programme also highlighted the varied artistic uses made of colour film in Japan. The chosen films exemplified different facets of the artistic potential of the emerging medium as it was embraced by the Japanese film industry.
Organised in collaboration with the National Film Center, Tokyo, Dr Jacoby acknowledges the participation of the assistant curator Masaki Daibo and the National Film Centre, Tokyo. Dr Jacoby would also like to acknowledge his friend and co-curator Johan Nordström.