Fascinating Strangeness. Japanese Culture in the Eyes of Western Filmmakers

Zbigniew Wałaszewski, Ph.D.
(Collegium of Art Education, The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Warsaw)

What is fascinating in Japanese culture is its colourful exoticism (clothes, customs and language), so different from Western traditions. Japanese heritage is perceived and used by various filmmakers as an attractive decoration of movie stories – it’s sentimental, kitschy and fantastic. It seems though that even in such superficial treatment of a foreign culture one can trace fascination with greatly deeper oddness: in perceiving the world and understanding man’s place in it.

This perception is nothing else than an equal position of man, nature, emptiness and existence in the world and a rigorous duty of every man to follow their own path. Though is talking about it not merely an idiom of fascinating and alien culture?

I will try to refer to these topics on the example of horror movies, kaijū-eiga, samurai movies and Japanese cinematic masters such as Y. Ozu and A. Kurosawa. When it comes to the Western artists, I will discuss works of Q. Tarantino, G. Lucas, J. Jarmusch, or H. Hartley.