The 5 February 2018 workshop on Japanese actress Setsuko Hara (1920-2015) was IGCCC’s first workshop to celebrate the work of a female artist, part of our series of events that mark the oeuvre of cineastes that have passed away in recent years.
The essays, published in Frames, Issue 13, are dedicated to Japan’s most admired and universally adored actress. Her presence in the films of Yasujirō Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Mikio Naruse and many others made Hara one of the most memorable faces in the history of cinema at large, even if she withdrew from acting in her early 40s and never appeared in film after 1962.
We screened one of Hara’s earliest films, the German-Japanese co-production THE NEW EARTH (a.k.a. The Daughter of the Samurai/Atarashiki Tsuchi/新しき土) 1937, directed in two diferent versions by Arnold Frank and Mansaku Itami – in the version directed by Frank. Even though this was not her first role, Hara is only 17 years old when she appeared in the film, in a period that was marked by substantial propagandistic and political upheavals.
In the presentations that followed, we heard from historian Konrad Lawson (St Andrews), who gave a fascinating contextualisation of the complex period in which Hara started her career. Other contributors included our colleague Philippa Lovatt (St Andrews), Bruce Chu (Communication University of China), and Alex Zahlten (Harvard University).
Frames Cinema Journal (Issue 13, May 2018) published a dossier containing some of the material — an essay, an illustrated presentation, and a video essay — that was created by our range of contributors specifically for Hara’s commemoration. Here are the links:
Dina Iordanova, Introduction: Setsuko Hara @ St Andrews and Now in Frames
Alastair Phillips’s (Warwick), Space and Transition in the Films of Setsuko Hara
Jennifer Coates (Kyoto U./University of East Anglia) Setsuko Hara vs. the Press: The Post-war Trolling of a Wartime Icon,
Joel Neville Anderson’s (Rochester/Japan Cuts) video essay: Hara Double at the Brattle.