Lecture 1. Los Angeles and Tokyo

created by:

Barbara Mennel

from the module:

Global Cities in Cinema

The lecture on Los Angeles and Tokyo creates a basis for a discussion of the global characteristics of the respective city films with individual histories of urban development, architecture, film cultures, and their histories. Attention to global influences reflects the circulation and reception of transnational exchange between the two cities and their film cultures. The history of urban planning, design, and architecture of Los Angeles emphasizes car culture and highways, the design of movie houses and the entertainment industry, and important modernist and postmodernist architects and buildings. The architecture and interior design of movie palaces introduces the topic of orientalism and its function in the global imaginary, foreshadowing the orientalist imagination of Tokyo as signifier for Asian later in the section. Emigres from Nazi Germany shaped architectural modernism and film aesthetics. But modernist architecture also takes its influences from other cultural sources, such as traditional Japanese design. Iconic modern and postmodern buildings appear in the films shot in Los Angeles. German emigres under the Nazi regime influenced film noir, the most iconic genre associated with the city of Los Angeles. Films from the 1990s circulate an image that commodifies ghetto culture globally, which is then recycled by minority cinema about Berlin and Paris at the end of the decade. WW II connects Tokyo to other four cities. Important modernist and postmodernist architects shape the city and its iconic buildings. It takes up the film noir in several films. Other films actively engage with the tourist gaze, either negating or reproducing it. The module concludes with two examples of global art cinema, in which Tokyo functions as a global cypher for transnational untranslatability.

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