Visible silence: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's cinematic representation of contemporary Japanese characters

Alec Morgan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this article I investigate Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s employment of ambiguous protagonists, horror and thriller genre subversion and the use of ‘silence’ as part of his experiments into the representation of contemporary Japanese screen characters. It focuses on films made during his most intensive period of experimentation, 1997 – 2001, and interrogates the evolution of his formal strategies through the application of traditional aesthetic principles of Ma (the space between) and Mujo, (the floating weed) to construct main characters. His creative explorations of sound as an element of the narrative structure reiterates Balazs’ conviction that film is the only art form capable of giving silence “a living face”. Further, Kurosawa’s modernisation of the traditional Yurei (ghost) form a counter strategy to the supernatural iconography derived from the American horror films that have heavily influenced Japanese cinema. By exploring the complex relationship between the dead and the living and constructing ghosts that are ‘a presence that cannot be conquered, but changes how one lives’, Kurosawa subverts the Hollywood concept of the ‘Other’ as a threatening monster in order to open up new avenues for pertinent allegorical commentary within the horror genre on issues which are relevant to global audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-92
Number of pages13
JournalFilm International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Japanese filmmaking
  • ghosts
  • detectives
  • genre subversion
  • Cure
  • Pulse
  • Tokyo Story


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