The Flash of Capital

Film and Geopolitics in Japan

The Flash of Capital

Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society

More about this series

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 72 illus. Published: November 2002

Author: Eric Cazdyn

Asian Studies > East Asia, Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Film

The Flash of Capital analyzes the links between Japan’s capitalist history and its film history, illuminating what these connections reveal about film culture and everyday life in Japan. Looking at a hundred-year history of film and capitalism, Eric Cazdyn theorizes a cultural history that highlights the spaces where film and the nation transcend their customary borders—where culture and capital crisscross—and, in doing so, develops a new way of understanding historical change and transformation in modern Japan and beyond.
Cazdyn focuses on three key moments of historical contradiction: colonialism, post-war reconstruction, and globalization. Considering great classics of Japanese film, documentaries, works of science fiction, animation, and pornography, he brings to light cinematic attempts to come to terms with the tensions inherent in each historical moment—tensions between the colonizer and the colonized, between the individual and the collective, and between the national and the transnational. Paying close attention to political context, Cazdyn shows how formal inventions in the realms of acting, film history and theory, thematics, documentary filmmaking, and adaptation articulate a struggle to solve implacable historical problems. This innovative work of cultural history and criticism offers explanations of historical change that challenge conventional distinctions between the aesthetic and the geopolitical.


"[A] breathtakingly ambitious work. . . . The Flash of Capital is an important contribution to the literature on Japanese film. It raises the stakes and changes the frames for discussion of Japanese film and visual studies and participates in displacing the boundary between academic professionalism and political intervention in area studies." — Mark Anderson, Journal of Asian Studies

"[A] welcome contribution to the field. . . . One can only look forward to what Cazdyn decides to do next." — Scott Nygren , Journal of Japanese Studies

"[B]roaches old questions that relate to the entanglement of film and capitalism in new ways. . . . [M]akes for interesting reading." — Michael Fitzhenry , Annual Review of Anthropology

"[E]ven readers unsympathetic with theory will find much of interest in this book. The author is extremely knowledgeable about Japanese history, culture, and literature, and he writes with attention to particulars. Every page contains illuminating observations on the relation between Japanese filmmakers within a deep cultural context. Those familiar with Japan’s masters of narrative film will find here intelligent criticism. What even aficionados of things Japanese will find illuminating is the information Cazdyn offers on documentary filmmakers in Japan, especially since WWII."
— R. Ducharme , Choice

"[P]rovocative. . . . The Flash of Capital is a valuable contribution to the field of film studies by a scholar well versed in historical and theoretical discussions in the field of Japanese studies in North America. . . . [Cazdyn's] lively observations of contemporary Japanese media culture may suggest one of the possible ways in which film scholars can engage in politics as public intellectuals in the age of globalization."- — Chika Kinoshita , Film Quarterly

"[T]hose who can find it in themselves to give a project as daring as Cazdyn’s a chance will be pleasantly surprised. In prose more lucid than the antitheory grumps might have led one to expect, Cazdyn, rubbing Japanese film up against Japanese geopolitics, produces many fascinating—to borrow his term—‘flashes’ . . . . [S]o bright is this book with insight and intelligence that it just might serve to win over a diehard theory-phobe or two."
— David Cozy , Japan Times

"Eric Cadzyn's new book brings together global economics and aesthetics to write a new history of Japanese film. The result is a stimulating and challenging attempt to produce a new foundation for the field." — Chris Berry, Screening the Past

"Let me go out on a critical limb early in 2003: The Flash of Capital—engaging, challenging, maddening—will be one of the year’s best studies of modern Japan. . . . The Flash of Capital itself is such ‘luxurious reading,’ one that will push you where you never intended."
— Ralph Cassell , Asahi Shimbun

“Cazdyn’s work is original, unique, and provocative. He asks hard questions, makes surprising connections, and as a result forces us to rethink the relationship of the aesthetic and the social in Japanese modernity.” — Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, author of Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema

“This book redesigns the way in which Japanese cinema must be approached, taking into account the ‘longer term’ dynamics of economic formations as well as the way Japan is stitched into ‘global’ contemporary processes.” — Paul Willemen, author of Looks and Frictions: Essays in Cultural Studies and Film Theory


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eric Cazdyn is Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies, Film, and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.

Table of Contents Back to Top



I. Relation: Film, Capital, Transformation

II. Historiography: Nation, Narrative, Capital

III. Adaptation: Origin, Nation, Aesthetic

IV. Acting: Structure, Agent, Amateur

V. Pornography: Totality, Reality Culture, Films of History

VI. Re-reading: Canon, Body, Geopolitics




Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2939-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2912-1
Publicity material