The Flash of Capital analyzes the links between Japan’s capitalist history and its film history, illuminating what these connections reveal about film culture and everyday life in Japan. Looking at a hundred-year history of film and capitalism, Eric Cazdyn theorizes a cultural history that highlights the spaces where film and the nation transcend their customary borders—where culture and capital crisscross—and, in doing so, develops a new way of understanding historical change and transformation in modern Japan and beyond.
Cazdyn focuses on three key moments of historical contradiction: colonialism, post-war reconstruction, and globalization. Considering great classics of Japanese film, documentaries, works of science fiction, animation, and pornography, he brings to light cinematic attempts to come to terms with the tensions inherent in each historical moment—tensions between the colonizer and the colonized, between the individual and the collective, and between the national and the transnational. Paying close attention to political context, Cazdyn shows how formal inventions in the realms of acting, film history and theory, thematics, documentary filmmaking, and adaptation articulate a struggle to solve implacable historical problems. This innovative work of cultural history and criticism offers explanations of historical change that challenge conventional distinctions between the aesthetic and the geopolitical.
About the Author:
Eric Cazdyn is Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies, Film, and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.