Kuroneko Notes

Kuroneko Opening

  • Music – getting a feel of a ghost story genre.
  • The low contrast give a more realistic shot, so the change to a high contrast shot emphasises the change in setting.
  • Selective audio – only hearing sounds which are striking or meaningful e.g the gulping of the water, spitting.
  • Eery silence.
  • Feminist themes?
  • Oppression, could be to do with the army they’re from – historical context?
  • Socialist themes of the higher class of samurai thinking they can do whatever they want with the lower class women.
  • The end of the scene has the same shot as the beginning, only with the samurai walking away instead of towards. – this could show nothing changing in their lives, however their actions have ruined others.
  • White smoke could show the burning of any whiteness they have left, turning them into ‘black’ cats. – burnt bodies is also a visual metaphor for this.
  • The cat is getting louder and louder with its ‘meows’.
  • Striking shot of the fire burning is contrasted by the sun rising – two opposing themes.
  • Close up of cat – showing importance
  • Samurai – Shown as quite violent – only thinking of themselves.
  • Compared to Rashomon, samurai are seen as in groups not alone.
  • They seem weak – travelling in groups to protect themselves.
  • The way they walk is weak, like they’re struggling to stand up, and contrasts with the typical perception of a strong samurai.
  • They zoom into the samurai, almost as if the camera is trying to show the samurai for what they really are.
  • The smeared food and sweating shows savagery, which contrasts with the perception of the noble samurai.
  • No music or dialogue – their actions speak for themselves.
  • The way they walk contrasts from when they come in, to when they go away, as they stagger in, weak and fragile, but walk out stronger, as if samurai’s need to feed off of the suffering of common people in order to be as powerful as they are – socialist themes?
  • A montage sequence – series of unconnected shots however still following the narrative and still understandable to the viewer –
  • Mostly static shots – very few pans or camera movement.
  • The black cat licks them, as if it is healing their wounds, luring them over to it.

Middle Sequence 

  • Very high contrast lighting, starting off with the sign (what does it say?)
  • Very spooky music
  • The woman is lighted much more brightly then the man, suggesting that she has they power before her power is revealed.
  • Pan and zoom into the woman – very unsettling smile and stance – foreshadow
  • The samurai says the the black cat “is starving too”, foreshadowing the woman and mother’s hunger for vengeance.
  • Side tracking shot of the two characters shot from afar could suggest their being watched? – woman is continued to contrast her surroundings.
  • The slow-motion  jump over the puddle suggests supernatural powers.
  • Having a secluded place suggests that they’re separated form humanity.
  • The background moves independently to the house, almost as it the house itself is supernatural.
  • Their clothes contrast, with that samurai in black and the Goth being in white.
  • They both have black on their head, but the samurai’s is in the form of a hat, whereas the woman’s is her head, suggesting the he nearly uses the darkness, and the darkness is part of her.
  • They’re slow to do things, and he is fast, showing how out of place he is.
  • The mother refers to the cat as “homeless” and “stray’, becoming a metaphor for themselves; stray, wondering the world of the living, and homeless, not being in hell.
  • Shot of the mothers hair flicking like a tail – an inset shot that builds narrative and at this point, we understand that everything said previously was a foreshadow.
  • Overlay of images – moving bamboo and wind as he is speaking – blends in with the vertical poles in the house. – almost like a visual thought bubble.
  • The mother gets up and leaves off camera. – the samurai seems so interested in his story that he doesn’t realise.
  • the daughter doesn’t react, doesn’t laugh with the samurai – isn’t human, so could show she doesn’t feel human emotion
  • Cutaway of cat hand as she pours the drink – Starting to build narrative and fully understand what she is.
  • She tells him to “make yourself at home”
  • The samurai cant be trusted from the first scene “everything is ours for the taking”- calls himself a“great warrior”
  • They all three dance, the mother to music, the daughter with her food, and the samurai with death.
  • Their house is made of bamboo – visual theme – Bamboo forest – spooky.
  • Camera tracing and moving a lot more compared to the opening of the film.
  • The music is a drum that is getting faster, like Jaws.
  • the shot of him lying in the burnt house, mirrors Ugetsu.

Kuroneko End Sequence

  • The cat noises start as a figment of his memory, but transition into reality – almost as if he is summing his mum with his thoughts.
  • Quick cuts of close up faces – Almost like a montage sequence – emphasises character emotions.
  • An arm is typically represented as something that is used for work (communist propaganda usually has arms holding tools), so having her arm as a weapon, shows how her only purpose is violence and death.
  • Strong lighting, high contrast, both high key and low key. Character Always stands out in comparison to the background. – similar to german expressionism.
  • He stats off centred in the screen, showing his loneliness and solitude, but once his mother enters the scene, he becomes less centred and gives way on the screen, showing how there is someone there, even if we cant see them.
  • The arm being displayed below the sword, presents a sense that the sword has conquered the monster.
  • Use of zooms, pans – something of new wave films (Due to camera sizes) – unnerving
  • Supernatural music.
  • Only one candle burning, on the left side of the screen.
  • Camera movement – panning around room presenting empty space where we would expect something or someone to be – reenforces themes of horror and ghosts.
  • Ghost like narration – echoing – again, reenforces the horror theme as well as telling the audience there is actually someone in the room.
  • Eery silence.
  • Repetition of “ocasa” (mother) shows
  • “warring samurai” – declaring ‘war’ on the ‘Warers’, shows a peaceful, socialist theme.
  • Repetition of objects – Hand, Candle, the character – Montage sequence, Jump cuts for emphasis.
  • Loud wind announces the entrance of the mother
  • Fast jump cut, suggests a montage, and presents the passing of time.
  • He is trying to purify himself, so letting the woman in is narrative imagery for his weakness towards women – and why he cannot defeat his mother.
  • Why doesn’t he recognise his mother? – Creating audience response – we know however he doesn’t – form of dramatic irony?
  • And what are the dots on her face? – Changing the way she looks?
  • Trombone shot of the mother looking at the arm – creates feelings of unease and suspense.
  • Zooms are used to emphasise on things and to create feelings of uncertainty.
  • The only time the audience see the true cat/ghost thing is is flashes for less than a second.
  • Repetition of “ocasa” again
  • Mes-en-scene – his hair is undone, showing how he is going mad, slashing at the air, and seeing visions. out of breath and screaming at nothing – visual representation that he is going into the fight unprepared, especially as cats have a reputation of cleaning themselves.
  • Ends how it began – destroyed building, character lying as if had, cat noises heard. No clear narrative from there, story seems left to be interpreted by the audience.
  • Lots of fast paced editing vs the long and drawn out editing when the mother is taking from outside the door. – ‘the calm before the storm’.
  • ‘Detail shot’ of the door.
  • Jump cut/insert of how the mother really looks – messy hair implies that they are not upright and proper characters – mother has lost herself in seeking her revenge?
  • She looks like an angel, with a long white dress and white halo
  • He is physically the victor, with her in the corner, but she psych’s him out and kills him using psychological warfare.
  • The mother has killed him with what she has become? – the shock of it.
  • Bamboo grove- – metaphor of the son being lost, confused.
  • Dramatic lighting, dry ice, creepy dripping sound – setting the scene and creating narrative.
  • The dry ice rises, almost like smoke. – showing how the mother and daughter never escaped the fire that killed them.
  • The ‘meow’ is heard.
  • Film ends on a dramatic “boom” type sound.
  • ‘New wave’ knows how bad the world is, whilst the ‘golden age’ was more hopeful.
  • ‘Only death can pay for life’ – need to get rid of the old stuff, in order to bring new life to the country.

Rashomon post war

How does Rashomon Portray Post war japan and address the need to reflect on the past, and look into the future?

Rashomon is the first film in the Japanese Golden Age of cinema, and was the first film to be made after the american occupation ended, thus is incredibly involved in the social and political situation that Japan Found itself in at the time.

The setting of Rashomon itself is itself a representative of the war as the ‘Rashomon Bridge’ itself has been devastated, and is falling to pieces, in the same way as the country is at the time. This connects the audience to the characters, as they’re surrounded by this destruction, reflecting on the path that led them to this point; making the visual narrative of the film a metaphor of the thoughts of the japanese public, at the time, which allows the film itself to become more than just a story in the publics eyes, as they would be able to see themselves in the narrative.

As well as the visual representing the state of Japan at the time, the first line of dialogue is “I don’t understand” which represents the social effects of the war, to the people that live there, representing their confusion as to what’s happened, and what they need to do to get out of their situation. This is also interesting because Rashomon represents one of the first glimmers of light into the new age of Japan, being itself a film; the new dominant form of technological media, showing, arguably the first glimpse of the japan’s new era, as a technological giant.

Rashomon, however, does not just focus on imagery portraying the past, but tries to propose an idea of the future to its audience; that things can only get better. Through the narrative imagery of a baby being saved by the woodcutter, the film introduces the idea of new beginnings, as there is always a new generation, and that it is easier for the people to just abuse what they have left and live out their days by continuing on the same path that led them to this point, represented, metaphorically, by the commoner, when he takes baby’s cloths out into the storm, but that it is the people of that times responsibility to take care of the new generation, and to make sure that the next generation does nat make the same mistakes that lead japan into a devastating war, and caused them to ruin their country.

This is one of the reasons why this is known as the beginning of the ‘golden age of cinema’, as Kurosawa started a cultural revolution, in Japan, with Rashomon, by creating cinema with messages in the narrative in order to influence individuals to do what is they think is best, offering an open debate, giving the audience more then just one point of view, like they’ve been having in the past decades, with American occupation propaganda, and Japanese war propaganda, before that. This proves how revolutionary the writing techniques in Rashomon are, as not only are the audience allowed to think what they want about the film’s narrative, the film itself, consists of four entirely contradicting story’s, and not giving a definite answer to what happened. This is the reason why Rashomon is seen as the beginning of the ‘golden age’ of japanese cinema, not because of the date it was released, but because it introduces new narrative techniques that contradict how stories were told in japan up until that point, which were similar to traditional japanese tapestries, told from start to finish, in a strictly linear fashion.

Rashomon is also revolutionary because of the fact that its three main characters are a ‘woodcutter’, a ‘priest’, and a ‘commoner’; characters who are normal people, not high born, rich, or warriors, which the japanese had previously almost exclusively based their stories on. This marks a social change in the peoples view of themselves, not just their country. This shows how important the golden age of japanese cinema was, as cinema was rapidly becoming the biggest form of media and entertainment, so social change in cinema was important if the country was to ever change, as media is what guides a countries social political beliefs, the change in the media’s views, follow what the public is thinking, especially in a film like Rashomon, that was in the top 10 highest grossing films in a year that produced over 1000 films with cinema releases.