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Reenacting A Failed Revolution: The February 26 Incident In Theatre And Film, 1960–1980

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Chapter Summary

In numerous countries, the Old Left historicist model of revolution was being challenged by the anarchic liberationist model of the New Left; and the classical avant-garde was being questioned by the neo-avant-garde and postmodernism. This chapter argues that in Japan, works about the February 26 Incident were a site for this contestation. Reviewing them, it is possible to observe a growing incredulity towards the received meta-narrative of 'revolution', the testing of alternatives, and the evolution of artistic works from realistic, life-or-death tales of conviction to outlandish kaleidoscopes of doubt. The notion of the 'avant-garde' originated as a military term and from the time of the French Revolution was associated with the idea of political insurrection. A politically-engaged artist with a number of overtly political films to his credit but by the mid-1970s disillusioned with the Old Left, Oshima like Sekine suggests that erotic revolution offers an alternative to political revolution.

Keywords: February 26 Incident; French Revolution; Japan; political films; postmodernism



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