Living in Japan for the past ten years, I
been the only foreigner in a movie theater. If the film is, say,
American rather than Japanese, then usually I am also the only one
laughing at the jokes, which is very disconcerting for everyone
in the theater.
When I have gone with friends, students, and now my wife,
who also laugh at the jokes, the experience becomes more fun and
the film more interesting. Going to see Japanese films with someone
Japanese is also much more fun and interesting than seeing them
alone or, for that matter, seeing them where Americans usually see
Japanese films: A classroom.
People say that after taking a film class in college, you
lose the pleasure of going to the cinema. And, that too much knowledge
or too much thinking
spoils the pleasure of a film. In a sense, that can be true. If
the moment a film starts, you're thinking about how best to analyze
the film, you're probably missing a lot that the film has to offer.
Being in the cinema is one kind of pleasure. Talking with
friends about what the film means, or devoting a lot of time to
studying and writing about a film, are other kinds of pleasures.
For me, each only adds to the pleasure of the other, and
that is the most important idea that I want to impart to my students,
my readers, and those who visit atomicbombcinema.com:
Thinking, reading, and writing about film is part of the
pleasure of filmgoing.
As a scholar, I am interested in the cinema as a vehicle
for understanding society and culture.
In Atomic Bomb Cinema
my concern has been with how different cultures respond to catastrophic
events, that is to say, the bomb. We learn a lot about ourselves
and others from studying such films. We learn even more when we
compare and contrast films from different cultures, and with different
media or expressive traditions.
Jerome F. Shapiro