When Marnie was There

Female friendship film and the genealogy of queer girls’ culture

Authored by: Yuka Kanno

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Cinema

Print publication date:  August  2020
Online publication date:  August  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138685529
eBook ISBN: 9781315534374
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter addresses Yonebayashi Hiromasa’s animated film, When Marnie Was There (2014) as a symptomatic text in order to trace the genealogy of queer girls’ culture in Japan back through transnational film culture to the 1930s. Drawing on the work of queer and lesbian film and narrative theories on spectral temporality and non-normative reading practices, I examine the ways in which the ghosted genealogy of girls’ culture resurfaces through contemporary films such as When Marnie Was There. Intersections of a wide range of visual and literary texts, for example, girls’ fiction (by Yoshiya Nobuko and Luisa May Alcott), Hollywood stars (Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Katharine Hepburn), and films such as Little Women and Mädchen in Uniform intersected one another in the 1930s, offering girls, readers, and cinematic spectators a vision of different ways of being and living. The chapter thus attempts to excavate how such transnational and intercultural connections between girls’ culture and film culture generated and circulated queer female desires and meanings.

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