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postgraduate thesis: To live and forget: the limits of comprehension and remembrance in the feature films of Hirokazu Kore-eda

TitleTo live and forget: the limits of comprehension and remembrance in the feature films of Hirokazu Kore-eda
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Cheung, EMK
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Lee, C. [李卓智]. (2012). To live and forget : the limits of comprehension and remembrance in the feature films of Hirokazu Kore-eda. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4775301
AbstractOften regarded as one of the eminent humanist directors working today, Japanese filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu has demonstrated consistent authorial intentions and thematic orientations throughout his filmography despite the variety of styles – from social documentary to period comedy – involved. Through in-depth textual analysis of his narrative strategies and exhaustive research on the English-language literature about the director, this study seeks to shed light on the first seven feature films in his career. Commentaries by Kore-eda on his creative impulse and filmmaking method, collected from both diverse sources of media interviews and insightful analyses published in academic journals, are meticulously examined. By taking a formalistic perspective, this thesis sets out to consolidate existing research in the field, while providing a systematic study that builds upon authoritative investigation. The study begins with an analysis of the filmmaking techniques utilised in Maborosi and Distance, both contemplative narratives that seek to capture the fragmented consciousness of the characters in mourning. With its seemingly naturalistic composition, Maborosi nonetheless presents a partially abstract narrative that is directly reflective of the grieving protagonist’s inner state. Distance, on the contrary, offers hints to the possible cause of the family members’ plans to join a religious cult and commit mass suicides – such as the emotional isolation in an urban society – while providing a final plot twist that confirms the slippery quality of any assumption. Both films imply that full comprehension of one’s family members is impossible. In the following chapter, the coherent authorial concerns in Kore-eda’s fourth to sixth feature – Nobody Knows, Hana and Still Walking – are illustrated along with his fascination with the process of forgetting. Kore-eda, who started out as a socio-documentarist, borrowed a real-life tragedy as the framework for Nobody Knows to construct a subversive take on the traditional perception of the Japanese family, extending a decidedly non-judgemental view on the irresponsible parents and celebrating the autonomy of the new generation. The solace of memory is highlighted in the anti-bushido comedy Hana, which is interpreted as Kore-eda’s protest against tradition and, by extension, the older generation. The director’s recurrent themes of broken promises, failed expectations and forgotten family legacies are highlighted with the slice-of-life domestic drama, Still Walking. The thesis then concludes with an analysis of the fantastic representations of the human condition in After Life and Air Doll, Kore-eda’s only two fantasy films to date. His use of quasi-realist documentary style in After Life facilitates a largely non-religious meditation on the importance of human co-dependence and recollection. The film’s metaphysical setting is compared to the absurd existence pondered in Albert Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus”, and its central premise – that the affirmation of one single memory can validate a person’s entire existence – is compared to Friedrich Nietzsche’s thesis of the eternal return. Also adopting the perspective of a non-human protagonist, Air Doll extends Kore-eda’s perception of the depressing prospects of modern life – substantiating the city dwellers’ pervasive sense of emptiness, while constantly looking for the beauty of living.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectMotion picture producers and directors - Japan - Criticism and interpretation.
Dept/ProgramComparative Literature

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorCheung, EMK-
dc.contributor.authorLee, Cheuk-chi.-
dc.contributor.author李卓智.-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationLee, C. [李卓智]. (2012). To live and forget : the limits of comprehension and remembrance in the feature films of Hirokazu Kore-eda. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4775301-
dc.description.abstractOften regarded as one of the eminent humanist directors working today, Japanese filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu has demonstrated consistent authorial intentions and thematic orientations throughout his filmography despite the variety of styles – from social documentary to period comedy – involved. Through in-depth textual analysis of his narrative strategies and exhaustive research on the English-language literature about the director, this study seeks to shed light on the first seven feature films in his career. Commentaries by Kore-eda on his creative impulse and filmmaking method, collected from both diverse sources of media interviews and insightful analyses published in academic journals, are meticulously examined. By taking a formalistic perspective, this thesis sets out to consolidate existing research in the field, while providing a systematic study that builds upon authoritative investigation. The study begins with an analysis of the filmmaking techniques utilised in Maborosi and Distance, both contemplative narratives that seek to capture the fragmented consciousness of the characters in mourning. With its seemingly naturalistic composition, Maborosi nonetheless presents a partially abstract narrative that is directly reflective of the grieving protagonist’s inner state. Distance, on the contrary, offers hints to the possible cause of the family members’ plans to join a religious cult and commit mass suicides – such as the emotional isolation in an urban society – while providing a final plot twist that confirms the slippery quality of any assumption. Both films imply that full comprehension of one’s family members is impossible. In the following chapter, the coherent authorial concerns in Kore-eda’s fourth to sixth feature – Nobody Knows, Hana and Still Walking – are illustrated along with his fascination with the process of forgetting. Kore-eda, who started out as a socio-documentarist, borrowed a real-life tragedy as the framework for Nobody Knows to construct a subversive take on the traditional perception of the Japanese family, extending a decidedly non-judgemental view on the irresponsible parents and celebrating the autonomy of the new generation. The solace of memory is highlighted in the anti-bushido comedy Hana, which is interpreted as Kore-eda’s protest against tradition and, by extension, the older generation. The director’s recurrent themes of broken promises, failed expectations and forgotten family legacies are highlighted with the slice-of-life domestic drama, Still Walking. The thesis then concludes with an analysis of the fantastic representations of the human condition in After Life and Air Doll, Kore-eda’s only two fantasy films to date. His use of quasi-realist documentary style in After Life facilitates a largely non-religious meditation on the importance of human co-dependence and recollection. The film’s metaphysical setting is compared to the absurd existence pondered in Albert Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus”, and its central premise – that the affirmation of one single memory can validate a person’s entire existence – is compared to Friedrich Nietzsche’s thesis of the eternal return. Also adopting the perspective of a non-human protagonist, Air Doll extends Kore-eda’s perception of the depressing prospects of modern life – substantiating the city dwellers’ pervasive sense of emptiness, while constantly looking for the beauty of living.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47753018-
dc.subject.lcshMotion picture producers and directors - Japan - Criticism and interpretation.-
dc.titleTo live and forget: the limits of comprehension and remembrance in the feature films of Hirokazu Kore-eda-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4775301-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineComparative Literature-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4775301-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

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