• Through a Tube, Darkly: Critical Remediation in High and Low (1963)

    Mike Phillips (see profile)
    CLCS 20th- and 21st-Century, Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Global & Transnational Studies, MS Screen Arts and Culture
    Motion pictures and transnationalism, Detective and mystery fiction, Police films, Intermediality in motion pictures, Culture and globalization, Motion pictures, Japanese
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    Akira Kurosawa’s 1963 police procedural is, as its title suggests, intensely interested in the socioeconomic valences of spatial relationships, literalized in Yokohama’s affluent hills and its low-lying slums. The central conflict between inhabitants of these two spaces articulates this local topography into a global framework, in which concrete spaces of social interaction and functional production become abstract places that act as conduits for flows of media and capital. Previous analyses have read the film as an historical reflection of and nationalistic reaction to Americanization. Attending to the film’s transnational, transtemporal, and transmedial articulations reframes the film as a critical engagement with globalization rather than a symptomatic reflection thereof. The immediate context of the rapid adoption of television, concomitant with Japan’s emerging consumerism, allows Kurosawa to figure abstract economic patterns through intermedial formal techniques. These textual practices associate the materiality of celluloid with manual labor, and the ephemerality of TV with speculative finance. By further linking the protagonist Gondo with the former pair and the antagonist Takeuchi with the latter, High and Low formally and structurally critiques economic globalization as a form of criminality.
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    4 months ago
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