Screening Enlightenment

A book review of the following text:

“Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan”


By Hiroshi Kitamura

Published in 2010 by Cornell University, Ithaca and London.


This is an academic text that looks at Japanese society during the US occupation.

Kitamura wrote about the relationships between Japan and Hollywood – How this changed before, during, and after the Second World War. He wrote about the influence of the U.S. government on Japanese cinema. Kitamura also wrote about the various relationships of  government and commercial organisations involved in the Japanese film industry. The book also explores Hollywood’s marketing and exhibition in occupied Japan. It also explores the censures and “guidelines” the U.S. government imposed on the films which were showcased in Japan. (Both Hollywood and Japanese films)

The author made sure to include all sides of the various subjects discussed, especially when looking at the perception of Hollywood by the public, examining “culture elites” and the new generation of high school students.

It is an excellent introduction to the system the Americans put in place to control and influence the Japanese public.

The book is wonderfully sourced: Kitamura looks at a wide range of sources both in Japanese and English.

By investigating different case studies of films, exhibitors and people, Kitamura is able to give a great insight into this period of Japanese history.

I enjoyed reading this book. It took me a while to read it because I was taking notes – it’s a very interesting text and it included many things which I felt were vital for my research. It offers a glimpse of the political scene in Japan at the time, but it also allows the reader to see how privileged Hollywood was during the occupation period.

It is an excellent introduction into the workings of the various government agencies operating in Japan at the time. It is an excellent source, and it’s not filled with the academic jargon of people who are trying to sound smart. Kitamura writes in a relatively concise, easy language. He handles the subject well, and gives enough space for each subject, so that it doesn’t seem to be taking over the other topics. Each chapter leads from one onto the next.

I would recommend this book even as a read to understand what happened in Japan post WWII. As an academic text, I feel it is an excellent source in it’s field of discussion.






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