The University of Wisconsin Press

Film / Asian Studies / Cultural Studies

The Imperial Screen
Japanese Film Culture in the Fifteen Years’ War, 1931–1945
Peter B. High

Wisconsin Studies in Film
David Bordwell and Vance Kepley, Jr., Series Editors

“Who could have predicted that the most detailed and precise analysis of our country’s wartime propaganda would come from an American scholar born and educated in the postwar era?”
—Kawamoto Saburo, film historian, Mainichi newspaper

From the late 1920s through World War II, film became a crucial tool in the state of Japan. Detailing the way Japanese directors, scriptwriters, company officials, and bureaucrats colluded to produce films that supported the war effort, The Imperial Screen is a highly readable account of the realities of cultural life in wartime Japan. Widely hailed as “epoch-making” by the Japanese press, it presents the most comprehensive survey yet published of “national policy” films, relating their montage and dramatic structures to the cultural currents, government policies, and propaganda goals of the era. Peter B. High’s treatment of the Japanese film world as a microcosm of the entire sphere of Japanese wartime culture demonstrates what happens when conscientious artists and intellectuals become enmeshed in a totalitarian regime.

This English-language edition is revised and expanded from the original Japanese edition.

Peter B. High is a professor of film and language at Nagoya University in Japan.


“One is filled with admiration for the author’s breadth of perspective, the objectivity of his approach, the vast reaches of material he covers and the care with which he analyzes each film and document.”
—Iwamoto Kenji, professor of film, Waseda University, Tosho Shimbun

“In bringing the English-language reader through the duration of wartime cinema under Imperial Japan up to the tensions that characterized film under the American occupation, The Imperial Screen is an essential complement to the scholarship by Dower, Hirano, and Buruma on war, culture, and memory.”
—Joanne Bernardi, associate professor of Japanese and film, University of Rochester

Peter High’s The Imperial Screen has won the Kovács Book Award Committee of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. For more details see their site Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

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Japanese military officer aand female civilian saluting

February 2003
LC: 2002010191 PN
624 pp.  6 x 9
86 b/w photographs

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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-18134-5
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Cloth $60.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-18130-7
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