Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan

Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan

by Hiroshi Kitamura


Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


During the six-and-a-half-year occupation of Japan (1945–1952), U.S. film studios—in close coordination with Douglas MacArthur's Supreme Command for the Allied Powers—launched an ambitious campaign to extend their power and influence in a historically rich but challenging film market. In this far-reaching "enlightenment campaign," Hollywood studios disseminated more than six hundred films to theaters, earned significant profits, and showcased the American way of life as a political, social, and cultural model for the war-shattered Japanese population. In Screening Enlightenment, Hiroshi Kitamura shows how this expansive attempt at cultural globalization helped transform Japan into one of Hollywood's key markets. He also demonstrates the prominent role American cinema played in the "reeducation" and "reorientation" of the Japanese on behalf of the U.S. government.

According to Kitamura, Hollywood achieved widespread results by turning to the support of U.S. government and military authorities, which offered privileged deals to American movies while rigorously controlling Japanese and other cinematic products. The presentation of American ideas and values as an emblem of culture, democracy, and sophistication also allowed the U.S. film industry to expand. However, the studios' efforts would not have been nearly as extensive without the Japanese intermediaries and consumers who interestingly served as the program's best publicists. Drawing on a wide range of sources, from studio memos and official documents of the occupation to publicity materials and Japanese fan magazines, Kitamura shows how many Japanese supported Hollywood and became active agents of Americanization. A truly interdisciplinary book that combines U.S. diplomatic and cultural history, film and media studies, and modern Japanese history, Screening Enlightenment offers new insights into the origins of this unique political and cultural transpacific relationship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501713620
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 03/31/2017
Series: The United States in the World
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 1,126,617
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Hiroshi Kitamura is Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary.

Table of Contents

1. Thwarted Ambitions: Hollywood and Japan before the Second World War
2. Renewed Intimacies: Hollywood, War, and Occupation
3. Contested Terrains: Occupation Censorship and Japanese Cinema
4. Corporatist Tensions: Hollywood versus the Occupation
5. Fountains of Culture: Hollywood's Marketing in Defeated Japan
6. Presenting Culture: The Exhibition of American Movies
7. Seeking Enlightenment: The Culture Elites and American Movies
8. Choosing America: Eiga no tomo and the Making of a New Fan Culture
ConclusionAppendix: First Forty-Five Films Selected for Distribution in Japan after the War
Index of Films

What People are Saying About This

Naoko Shibusawa

"In Screening Enlightenment, Hiroshi Kitamura investigates not only the ideologies driving U.S. policymaking but also their effects on those at the receiving end of those policies. Kitamura offers an excellent, deeply researched, and smoothly written combination of international business history, Japanese film history, cultural history, and diplomatic history."

Akira Iriye

"Thoroughly researched and carefully crafted, this book provides the first comprehensive study of movie entertainment in post-1945 Japan. As a teenager then living in Tokyo, I remember being deeply impressed with such Hollywood productions as Madame Curie, The Yearling, and Little Women. I am grateful that this book helps me understand how these and other movies were selected for showing in Japan, how Hollywood collaborated with U.S. occupation authorities in the process, and how Japan's postwar cultural elites looked to the Hollywood film as a crucial instrument for reconstructing their country and developing a close understanding of, and ties to, the United States. Screening Enlightenment is a valuable addition to the literature on post–World War II history."

Alexander Jacoby

"Kitamura successfully uses case studies to explore the way in which American films were marketed and received in Japan, and how they shaped the Japanese postwar experience.... Screening Enlightenment sheds new light on a neglected part of Occupation history."

Andrew Gordon

"Hiroshi Kitamura offers an insightful consideration of the U.S. film industry's efforts in Japan. He is attentive to not only American cultural dealings with Japan but also Japan's engagement with and influence on the world's cinema."

Customer Reviews