Organizer and Chair: Keiko I. McDonald, University of Pittsburgh
Discussant: J. Thomas Rimer, University of Pittsburgh
Japanese film is famously receptive to many adaptations of literary masterpieces. This panel investigates this close relationship through a comparative study of Mori Ogai's three major works and their postwar screen versions.
Among important questions to be addressed by the panelists are: What are the major "differences" in the way the original and its film adaptation approach a particular issue? In transforming the original into film, how does each director follow, modify or alter the writer's social, philosophical and/or ideological vision(s)? Does the filmmaker succeed in transferring what is essentially a literary property to the filmic medium?
Tamae Prindle will discuss how Ogai's The Wild Geese (1913) and Toyoda's 1953 film adaptation, The Mistress, treat the Japanese class system. She will concentrate on the filmmaker's enlargement on the psychological impact of patriarchy on women in Meiji society.
Fumiko Yamamoto will investigate how Mizoguchi interprets the thematic thrust of Ogai's Sansho Dayu (1915)-human motivation and quest for mother-in his 1954 film adaptation, Sansho the Bailiff. She will focus on Mizoguchi's use of pictorial images as a main contributing factor to this interpretative process.
Keiko McDonald will examine how a principle of addition and exploration is at work in Die Tšnzerin, Shinoda's 1989 adaptation of the short story, "Dancing Girl" (1890). She will argue that this principle helps the director provide "narrative legibility" to his thematic concern with the Meiji intellectual's conflict of values, clarifying various questions of cause and effect left unanswered in Ogai's story.
The critical methods employed by the panelists exhibit a wide range: feminist, formalist, literary and historical approaches. They will undoubtedly give some insights into a larger question of interdisciplinary nature: How can literature and film be profitably viewed in relation to one another?
Said and Unsaid, Seen and Unseen-Two Sansho Dayus
Fumiko Yamamoto, University of Kansas
Mori Ogai's Sansho Dayu follows one of the most prototypical "yearning-for-mother" folk-formulae: children's forced separation from their mother, search for her through constant hardships and their final reunion. Copeland in her "Motherhood as Institution" (Japan Quarterly January-March 1992, p. 108) argues that male writers are "characterized as being mother obsessed, of wanting to chart their way back to mother worlds." Ogai's tale with a strong story line presents a graphic picture of human motivation and quest for mother. Ogai's picture can be analogized to the haiku where the unsaid triggers the readers' creation of pictures that the readers "see" in their imagination. Mizoguchi Kenji's interpretation of Ogai's story, on the other hand, shows a different narrative quality. His story is fluid, lyrical and continuous: the story is a series of well-connected images so that the viewers create in their minds a narrative that is "told" to them. The paper will start with experiential differences of the presumed reader and the viewer of the respective works. The differences come not simply from the choices of the different media, but also from the creators' use of images. Ogai's story appears simple in its images, but they challenge the reader to generate iconicity of those images and interpret its significance. Mizoguchi's images, though evocative and suggestive, are complex but their iconicity is unambiguous. The paper summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of the novel and of the film as text.
Short Story into Action: Ogai's "The Dancing Girl" and Shinoda's Die
Keiko I. McDonald, University of Pittsburgh
The thematic constant of Shinoda's films has always been the individual's relationship with society conceived in terms of victim-vitimizer. Ogai's "Dancing Girl" (1890) fits in well with this creative drive because Die Tšnzerin (Maihime, 1989) is the filmmaker's own interpretation of the traumatic experience of the Meiji intellectual, who acts out the choice or non-choice between conformity to the nation and fidelity to his own heart.
In terms of narrative, "The Dancing Girl" presents the filmmaker with a difficulty: it is a short story. Shinoda must expand and add, and so he does. While retaining fidelity to the basic storyline of the original, he spends most of his collaborative energy on character delination, enrichment of certain events and creation of another causal event in the final sequence. By so doing, Shinoda provides narrative legibility to the protagonist's moral dilemma, clarifying various questions of cause and effect that the original story leaves unanswered.
Nonetheless, what makes transposition to the screen easier is the essentially filmic quality for which "Dancing Girl" is noted. Ogai's prose itself in this work is noted for pictorial images paying due attention to sounds and color. Shinoda counts heavily on the camera's expressive power and diegetic/non-diegetic sounds to create the immediacy of his hero's exposure to a foreign culture and his resulting conflict of values.