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DANILA S. BUKIN
Saint Petersburg State University,
Mendeleevskaya line, 5, 199034, Saint Petersburg
Bukin D.S. (2022). Discourse of Traditional Japan in the British Newsreels of the 1920s. The Art and Science of Television, 18 (1), 197–216. https://doi.org/10.30628/1994-
Discourse of Traditional Japan in the British Newsreels of the 1920s
Abstract. The article aims to distinguish the features of the language used to describe traditional Japan in the media discourse of the 1920s British newsreels. This becomes possible thanks to a modern trend of digitizing reels from the archives of companies which were involved in production and distribution of films at that time. In this paper, I consider reels of Pathé News, Gaumont Graphic, and Empire News Bulletin. At the present time, open access to video footage is provided by British Pathé Internet archive, therefore it served as a basis for my source database. The language for describing traditional Japan was derived from the media discourse of newsreels, or, in other words, their linguistic space, which determined the possibilities and limitations of expressive means; this is why considerable attention is paid to the reconstruction of this language. For this purpose, I address the multifaceted context of newsreel production. The article raises questions of authorship, motives, goals and objectives of newsreels, its audience and ideological content. In order to analyze the means for describing traditional Japan, I choose films in which discursive markers of Japanese culture are present: Japanese costumes, samurai and geisha, Shinto temples, cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, summer umbrellas, wooden sandals, ritual practices, etc. Judging by the patterns used, British newsreels of that period reproduced the Western tradition of describing Orient as an ahistorical space in which ancient customs were preserved. At the same time, newsreels modified this Orientalist discourse by accentuating Western influence on Japan, giving it some temporality by placing it in the conventional context of modern civilization.
Keywords: Great Britain, Japan, newsreel, Anglo-Japanese relations, interwar years, media discourse, orientalism, British Pathé, Gaumont Graphic, Empire News Bulletin