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Title: Geologist or Geisha? Disorienting body and landscape in Japanese Story
Contributor(s): O'Sullivan, J (author)
Publication Date: 2004
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Abstract: The opening credits of Japanese Story (2003) are set against an enigmatic deep ochre landscape, somewhere in the vast mining areas of the Western Australian Pilbara desert. The sequence is seemingly filmed from high above, the height and tracking motion creating the impression that it is a big rolling rock formation, filmed from an aircraft. Yet, as the camera lingers on this spectacle there is time to consider that this may be a tight close-up of a small mound on the surface of the desert--already our confidence in visual perception is undermined--things may not be as they seem.It is most appropriate that this blurring of distinctions between ostensibly unlike objects is made apparent from the outset of Japanese Story, given that such commonly perceived distinctions, most particularly those between gendered bodies, sexual bodies, bodies and landscapes, and the body living and the body dead, are disrupted throughout the film. Indeed, viewed from a feminist and poststructuralist perspective, this destabilizing of fixed boundaries of subjectivity, and between subject and context, makes the film an irresistible text. In essence, this paper will argue that by juxtaposing the attitudes and actions of an Australian woman and a Japanese man thrown together in the Pilbara desert, and tracing their ensuing relationship, Japanese Story reveals that when explored beyond the constructions and constraints of culture, each character's embodiment of identity is revealed as provisional, malleable, and to an extent interchangeable. This is very much the slippery terrain of the queer, one which in this film results from the meticulous integration of soundtrack, editing and raise en scene that has the effect of "making the familiar strange."
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Antipodes, 18(2), p. 140-146
Publisher: American Association of Australian Literary Studies
Place of Publication: New York
ISSN: 0893-5580
Field of Research (FOR): 190201 Cinema Studies
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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