Kinnia Yau Shuk-ting wrote an article “The Early Development of East Asian Cinema in a Regional Context” that examines the stages of East Asian film industry development. The author of the article believes that significant events crafted East Asian cinema, and one can discover the formation of an Asian film framework through these events. They include Second Sino-Japanese, World War II, Opium War, and Postwar Era that define the main tendencies in the Asian film industry.
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Summary and Review
The author refers to the Daitoa eiga as to the root of East Asian cinema that has been established during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, along with Manei, Zhonghua Dianying, and Nanyo Eiga Kyokai. He discusses the concept for each of the listed film companies to understand the historical development of East Asian cinema. Kinnia Yau Shuk-ting also emphasizes that Japanese films had limited appeal to the Asian audience due to cultural differences.1 Even though they produced high-quality products in the film industry, it was difficult for a non-Asian audience to accept certain cultural differences, such as understanding that beating a woman represents the act of love.
Aside from cultural differences, other populations also impacted the development of an Asian cinema. Huaqiao was an overseas Chinese population, primarily located in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaya, and they played an important role in Chinese film history as they provided markets, capital, and talent.2 They had a strong demand for Chinese movies, which resulted in investing in filmmaking ventures. Moreover, some Huaqiao sponsored Chinese film companies and contributed to their popularity — for instance, Runme and Run Run Shaw became popular in Singapore and Malaya, which influenced Japanese filmmakers.
During the war, films made by Zhonghua Dianying in which Japanese participated, were criticized by the Chinese as they stated that Eternal Fame was supporting the war against Britain and America. However, the film was produced to appreciate the Opium War that occurred between China and Britain.
After discussing the development of the Asian film industry during the war, he moves forward and explains the most popular tendencies in the Postwar Era. Various co-productions were made during the 1950s and 1960s due to the development of the Federation of Motion Picture Producers.3 The Asian film network was initiated by Japan to antagonize the robust network of the American industry. The examples of such movies are Princess Yang Kwei Fei (1955, Mizoguchi Kenji), A Night in Hong Kong (1961, Chiba Yasuki), The Great Wall (1962, Tanaka Shigeo) and The Last Woman of Shang (1964, Yue Feng). 4
I agree with Kinnia Yau Shuk-ting as historical events crafted the Asian film industry, and a connection of historical events with the development of Asian movies allows an individual to see a broader image and reasons for the development of the movie industry. Kinnia Yau Shuk-ting makes an inclusive attempt to explain the events that followed various stages of film development in Asia. The author presents a material by not only describing the main events but also explaining the reasoning for each of them, which is essential to consider. Moreover, he divides the development stages into periods, which reveals the tendency of each decade. It also shows reasoning for the development in one or another sphere. It leads the reader from the 1930s, explaining how Daitoa Eiga, which means the Greater East Asian cinema, was initiated and finishes with Shaw Brothers studio, which is the largest film production company in Hong Kong. However, the film industry in Asia was developing before the 1930s, and “Taisho democracy” and avant-garde influenced the industry during the 1920s. 5 Hence, the film industry experienced transformations before Daitoa eiga that occured in the 1930s.
Kinnia Yau Shuk-ting explains that the Asian film network was initiated against the powerful influence of the American film industry. The article engages with Viera’s writing, who added that narration and camera techniques in Hollywood in the 1910s were not fully implemented into Japanese cinema until the 1920s.6 Hence, it is fair to notice that American culture impacted the Japanese film industry and served as an inspiration to them and it is important to consider different aspects of various influencers to determine what made an Asian film industry what it is today.
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This article can be useful for individuals who want to discover the Asian film industry deeper and to understand the connection between Japanese and Chinese cinemas. It also presents the main characters who crafted the industry. For instance, Kinnia mentions Japan Hong-Kong collaboration that had great significance in the industry as one of the points of East Asian film history. The author describes cameramen Nishimoto Tadashi and director Inoue Umetsugu who are considered especially important to the company, which gives a better understanding of people who helped the industry advance. However, an article can also be problematic due to the variety of events described that can be disputed by other authors who may have an adverse opinion. The possibility of dispute also means that the topic is accurate as it requires further investigation.
Therefore, an article The Early Development of East Asian Cinema describes one of the most important stages in the history and all the related events that influenced the Asian movie development. It also allows connecting events with the major courses, as well as to see a connection between Japanese and Chinese industries. Hence, Kinnia Yau Shuk-ting gives a vast background of the significant events and explains the relationship between them.
Mark A. Vieira, Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934). Running Press Adult, 2019.
Yau Shuk-ting, Kinnia, “The Early Development of East Asian Cinema in a Regional Context”, Asian Studies Review, 2009.
Yomota Inuhiko, What is Japanese Cinema? New York, Columbia University Press, 2014.
- Yau Shuk-ting, Kinnia, “The Early Development of East Asian Cinema in a Regional Context”, Asian Studies Review, 2009, 5.
- lbid., 7.
- Ibid., 8.
- Ibid., 9.
- Yomota Inuhiko, What is Japanese Cinema? (New York, Columbia University Press, 2014), 6.
- Mark A. Vieira, Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934), (Running Press Adult, 2019), 6.