Japan House London announces Godzilla film seasons

Throughout 2024, Japan House London on Kensington High Street will be hosting two major film seasons. The six months from January until June mark the cultural institute’s Mizoguchi Kenji season, paying homage to the prolific Japanese director with screenings of five of his iconic films. 

From September, Japan House London then celebrates Godzilla’s 70th anniversary with a series of screenings of the original Japanese franchise. Screenings are currently free to attend, but booking is essential.

Focus on Mizoguchi Kenji  – 19 June

Curated by academic and Japanese film critic Dr Alexander Jacoby, Japan House London is hosting screenings of five films directed by Mizoguchi. The Japanese filmmaker directed roughly 100 films during his career, starting in the 1920s and spanning three decades. Many of his films won awards, and he has been cited as an inspiration for many notable directors, including Orson Welles, Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog.

Films and associated events in the season:

  • 11 and 14 February 2024 – The Life of Oharu
  • 10 and 13 March 2024 – The Lady from Musashino
  • 14 and 17 April 2024 – Gion Festival Music/A Geisha 
  • 12 and 22 May – A Story from Chikamatsu
  • 9 and 19 June 2024 – Sanshō Dayū

Jacoby has chosen the films to highlight two themes present throughout much of Mizoguchi’s work – the expected role and exploitation of Japanese women under Japan’s feudal system (a form of mitate, in which contemporary critique was hidden through historical events), and Japan’s literary heritage. Many of Mizoguchi’s films are adaptions of novels or plays – A Story from Chikamatsu, for example, is adapted from a bunraku play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, one of Japan’s greatest dramatists.

Alexander Jacoby, Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at Oxford Brookes University, said: 

“It was Mizoguchi who made me fall in love with Japanese cinema a quarter of a century ago. His films are some of the most beautiful in all of world cinema; his images are as vivid as woodblock prints and as delicate as ink-wash landscape paintings; his camera tracks and cranes with dynamism and grace. But he always keeps the human element to the fore; he is saddened by human suffering, angry at injustice, and inspiring in his hope. His films move in more than one sense.”

Focus on Godzilla September – December 2024

Post-war Japanese cinema responded to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in several ways, including through kaiju eiga (monster movies). Godzilla specifically acts as an allegory of the threat of nuclear power – a monster awakened after a hydrogen bomb testing in the Pacific. Godzilla is not just an embodiment of the bombs, but also represents the subsequent physical and emotional fallout for the local population. To mark the 70th anniversary of the original Godzilla film, Japan House London will be screening a selection of the franchise, including:

  • Gojira (Godzilla) – the original 1954 Japanese epic and the first film in the Godzilla franchise
  • Mothra vs. Godzilla  the fourth film in the Godzilla franchise, released in 1964
  • Destroy All Monsters  the ninth film in the Godzilla franchise, released in 1968
  • Godzilla vs. Hedorah  the eleventh film in the Godzilla franchise, released in 1971

Exact dates of the screenings will be confirmed nearer the time.

Ainu film screenings

As part of Japan House London’s current exhibition Ainu Stories: Contemporary Lives by the Saru River, there are a number of related film screenings planned. These will run up until April 2024. Please visit the What’s On page of the website for further information. Screenings often book out very quickly, so follow Japan House London on social media and subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to hear the latest event information.

Current scheduled films include:

  • 18 February – Ainu Bear Ceremony – film and intro talk with Simon and Stephen Hughes of the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • 17 & 27 March – Laura Liverani, Ainu neno an Ainu – with intro talk and Q&A on Sunday 17 March
  • 3 April – Ainu Past and Present: Legacy of Neil Gordon Munro in collaboration with the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • 16 April – 3 Ainu short films
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