A Season of Japanese Musicals at Japan Society New York

The Happiness of the Katakuris Film Image 3

There’s a very exciting season of films that will be played at the Japan Society New York building throughout April. This season is called:


10 films will be screened from April 08th to the 23rd and audiences will get to experience films from the golden age of the “popular song film” to some more recent entries. That means titles from the ‘50s and ‘60s where Japanese cinema had Hollywood style musicals all the way through to the weird genre-mashup that is The Happiness of the Katakuris, one of Takashi Miike’s most popular films.

It looks like it’s going to show how Japanese cinema utilised Hollywood musical styles and American musical genres, marrying them up with elements found in the bedrock of Japanese culture to create unique films– Buddhist chanting, pop-idols battling to save a geisha from businessmen, samurai and courtesans singing jazz songs. Romances, commercialism, parodies, party-times and politics are all on screen and there are interesting social themes at play in these musicals with the relationship between Japan and the US, globalisation, the economic boom and wish fulfilment as well as an interesting contrast between the glitz and glamour and the down and dirty realities of the characters in some of the films.

The mission of the film season is to help audiences to uncover the little-known world of Japanese musical films and, by extension, Japan at the time. The mission of the films when they were first released was to help audiences understand the massive changes in Japan. To help there are parties and talks. It sounds so exciting!

The trailer for the season should give you a taste of what’s on offer but here’s a bit more from me which I got from the season’s website and IMDB. The trailers and clips won’t be a patch on what audiences will see since they will be watching the musical on the big screen and the films are all on 35mm:

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