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Open AccessArticle

On the Relationship between Documentary Films and Magic Lanterns in 1950s Japan

Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University, Tokyo 162-8644, Japan
Received: 22 March 2019 / Revised: 10 May 2019 / Accepted: 10 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Developments in Japanese Documentary Film)
In this paper, I explore three cases from postwar Japanese media history where a single topic inspired the production of both documentary films and magic lanterns. The first example documents the creation of Maruki and Akamatsu’s famed painting Pictures of the Atomic Bomb. A documentary and two magic lantern productions explore this topic through different stylistic and aesthetic approaches. The second example is School of Echoes, a film and magic lantern about children’s education in rural Japan. The documentary film blurs distinctions between the narrative film and documentary film genres by utilizing paid actors and a prewritten script. By contrast, the original subjects of the documentary film appear as themselves in the magic lantern film. Finally, the documentary film Tsukinowa Tomb depicts an archeological excavation at the site named in the title. Unlike the monochrome documentary film, the magic lantern version was made on color film. Aesthetic and material histories of other magic lanterns include carefully hand-painted monochrome films. Monochrome documentary films in 1950s Japan tended to emphasize narrative and political ideology, while magic lantern films projected color images in the vein of realism. Through these examples of media history, we can begin to understand the entangled histories of documentary film and magic lanterns in 1950s Japan. View Full-Text
Keywords: magic lantern; documentary film; popular history movement magic lantern; documentary film; popular history movement
MDPI and ACS Style

Toba, K. On the Relationship between Documentary Films and Magic Lanterns in 1950s Japan. Arts 2019, 8, 64.

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