Victims and bystanders: Women in the Japanese war-retro film

Jennifer Coates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


While war narratives on film generally focus on male characterisation, this article suggests that analysis of female images in the war film can reveal processes of commemoration and memorialisation at work within the war film genre. Taking examples from the ‘war-retro’ genre popular in 1950s–1970s Japan, the author argues that the female image functions as an emotional screen in the war-retro film, anchoring the sympathies and emotions of the viewer to the leading characters and their inherent political affiliations. The female victims and onlookers of the war-retro film draw the sympathies of the viewer and heighten emotional investment in the stakes of the narrative, emotions which are then transferred to the impassive heroes. This article demonstrates the powerful techniques at work within the imagistic structure of the war-retro film which effect a virtual re-writing of history by creating a new collective national memory of war.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalMedia, War and Conflict
Issue number3
Early online date28 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • affect
  • film
  • gender
  • Japan
  • spectator
  • war-retro
  • women

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