What type of existence is the body on the screen? Considering this problem, this paper studies Richard Fleischer’s The Boston Strangler (1968). The existence of Albert DeSalvo, played by Tony Curtis, shows a singular way of being on the screen that has not been pointed out in previous studies. From the viewpoint of mental illness, previous studies assume DeSalvo to be a “divisional existence whose second personality is the real culprit.” However, that is not the premise of this paper. I drow on Stephen Heath’s classification of “the presence of people” in the narrative film. The aim of this paper is to clarify the singularity of the way DeSalvo exists that does not fit each item of this classification well.
In my discussion, I examine the star image of Curtis and the figure of DeSalvo in the media discourse, and point out the process of showing DeSalvo as the real culprit. Furthermore, I identify the splits in the process, using invisibility and voice as a clue. I also demonstrate how the mechanism of violence of visualization operates to establish DeSalvo as the subject, as well as how subsequently this mechanism is undermined by the register of bodily gestures. Finally, after tracing these three phases, namely the invisible regime, violence of visualization, and another invisible area, I clarify that the way of existence of DeSalvo led to “the existence of white.”
Rodan (Sora no daikaiju Radon, dir. Ishiro Honda, 1956), whose special visual effects were directed by Tsuburaya Eiji, has been highly appreciated as a kaijū eiga since the original release. However, little study on the significance of special effects of the film has been done, partly because the majority of the previous studies on the special effects of kaijū eiga have almost exclusively focused on Godzilla (1954). Drawing on Tom Gunning’s concept of “cinema of attractions,” this paper attempts to illuminate the historical and cultural significance of the film. According to Gunning, the cinema of attractions is characterized by not so much by its storytelling as its effect of shock or stimulation directly affecting the viewers. However, this paper argues that in the case of Rodan, the aspect of attractions is characterized by the viewer’s reflective attitude toward the special effects rather than direct shock effects on the viewer, and this kind of attitude, I would argue, will later lead to the otaku spectatorship. The film, in this regard, could be considered as a turning point of spectatorship of special visual effects.
In this paper, I first shed light on the basic principles of Tsuburaya as the director of special effects. He gave the highest priority to the respect of narrative function in his direction of special effects, yet he also allowed to leave the technique itself visible. This also meant a potential for transforming special effects to the element of attraction. Secondly, I analyze how Rodan reflects Tsuburaya’s directorial principles, especially in the scenes when Rodan makes appearances in the Saikai bridge or Fukuoka. Lastly, by examining contemporary popular articles called “Technical descriptions,” I demonstrate that the contemporary viewers saw the film paying special attention to special effects in the reflective mode of spectatorship.
This paper considers children’s film frame collection and its culture from the viewpoint of “media archeology,” in order to reconsider empirically the diversity of media device and equipment, which has not been fully explored in previous studies. From the end of the Meiji era to the early Showa era, koma firumu (film frame), one-frame filmstrip of movies (18×35mm) that is, were sold in various places such as movie theaters and toy stores, and in the Taisho period film frame collection by the children became extremely popular. Although this phenomenon has been frequently recognized in the preceding research, it has never been subject to scholarly examination. In this paper, by referring to physical materials including film frame collection itself, the special peep box and the magic lantern to project these film frames, I examine the phenomenon in detail from the mutual perspective of both the distributor and the purchaser (collector), in order to shed light on an aspect of the secondary sector of Japanese film industry in those days.
This business practices contributed to the scatter of many prewar Japanese films because films had been sold off in pieces after the theatrical releases, but the accumulated film frames show the diversity and width of prewar Japanese media culture. Secondarily used film frames created a newly mixed existence in the children’s toy world, spreading and generating a derived form of media, a phenomenon which does not appear in the mainstream image and media history. This trend, I would argue, is quite the opposite to the currently accelerating trend of digital integration and centralization.