Teshigahara Hiroshi – Filmmaker of the Japanese Collapsing Identity

  • Abstract:

    After having been devastated by flames of war, Japan gave birth to the prosperous “miracle” of the post-war period, culminating in 1964’s Olympic. However, beneath this “mask” of miraculous system, lies another face people tried to repress deep down in their unconscious. Rebuilding of the country led to frenetic modernisation driven by Westerner occupant at the cost of old traditions. 1960s follow post-war period which symbolically ended with Japan’s emancipation through signature of the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951. But still American presence remains. Indeed, later events such as Korea’s or Vietnam’s wars will require Japan as a strategic position for American army. Among those is the signature of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan in 1960, which caused violent riots in Tôkyô. So, Japanese people were driven by the anxiety of losing an already upset Japanese identity and the difficulty to adapt themselves to new ways of life. Many intellectuals and artists were very concerned by this fracture within national identity. Among filmmakers of this time, Teshigahara is one of those who brilliantly illustrated this collapsing of Japanese identity. Not only because of subjects related to identity crisis and anonymity illustrated by conflict between tradition and modernisation but above all because these same subjects still haunt contemporary Japan. So, anxieties related to a mutating identity in the 1960s endure through more recent filmmakers such as Kurosawa Kiyoshi. Such problematic highlights failure of any resolution. In that way, present communication will pay special attention to two of Teshigahara’s movies The Face of Another (1966) and The Man without a Map (1968) and bring out special patterns such as social mask and evaporation of man like illustrations of atomic and war legacy as well as crisis of modernity resulting from it.