The Monopack Revolution, Global Cinema and Jigokumon/Gate of Hell (Kinugasa Teinosuke, 1953)

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This article discusses the impact of cheaper colour film stocks introduced in the 1950s on the global film market. After a contextual overview the cases of India and China are briefly considered before a more detailed examination of conditions in Japan, and how the world’s attention was drawn to the achievements of Jigokumon/Gate of Hell (Kinugasa Teinosuke, 1953) as an exemplary colour film that was influenced by both Japanese culture and Hollywood melodrama, particularly The Mississippi Gambler (Rudolph Maté, 1953), an American film that was notable for its display of different colours, fabrics and silken textures illuminated by lighting. The history of colour filmmaking in the sound period is detailed, as well as how Japanese technicians visited Hollywood in the early 1950s to study colour. Following a textual analysis of Jigokumon, the article considers its reception by Japanese and British critics. Shifting attention away from the more prevalent analyses of colour in American, British and European cinema, the article highlights the need for transnational approaches to more fully understand a critical period in the history of global cinema. The contemporary context of film restoration is also referenced as of prime importance in recovering the chromatic qualities of films shot in Eastmancolor that were subject to deterioration. Conceptualising global colour as an expansive, fluid phenomenon that has been largely formed by transnational exchange constitutes an important step towards bringing colour more centrally into the frame of transnational studies as well as informing our understanding of colour’s relevance to the development of national cinemas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalOpen Screens
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2018


  • Colour Cinema Japan


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