From Spaghetti to Ramen noodle-Tampopo (Wu MengYin)

Tampopo is a movie that is very pleasing and commercially successful. Also it maintains a self- awareness.  In Tampopo, food is put to the extreme where it becomes an equivalent of love and sex and the woman is a conduit of it.

Juzo Itami calls Tampopo (1987) a ‘noodle western’ where the girl is a widow and a business owner and the cowboys leave town often only to return in order to continue training and teaching her.  Tampopo is the owner of the shop who receives too much insult from her customers because of the bad quality of her noodles. When Tampopo asks their opinion of her noodles, Goro and Gun have to tell her they are not very good at first time. Therefore, Goro likes a modern Shane to help Tampopo set up the perfect fast-food noodle restaurant. . Surprisingly Goro turns out to be a food expert who decides to help transform the shop into a success (Zimmerman, 363). By the end of the movie, Tampopo’s dream has become reality and finally becomes a famous ramen chef. From the beginning the film discover into the philosophical aspects of preparing and consuming food and the idea of it as nourishment. This indicates that modern Japanese society where food is an important part of the culture and makes it to talk shows, and even TV. Tampopo seems to be a film that that does not meet to any given category. Therefore it is a perfect example of the post-modernist film that has a format that repeatedly problematizes the development of the central narrative by branching off into wildly parodic and minimally connected episodes, blending many genres and narrative styles along the way (Iles, 23).  The film not only uses the genre of the spaghetti western but also use at other genres and references such as yakuza movies, erotica and training scenes reminiscent of Rocky. More importantly, the film is able to transcend the parody and the satire and not transforms into a comedy of manners that draws our attention to the various social conventions (Berra, 128).

The film is old so it starts in black and white with the cowboy style Goro and his sidekick Gun stopping at a noodle shop for their meal.  However, the movie that manages to mix several genres into an entertaining unit and it describes contemporary society. Many episodes Tampopo is combination of satire and genre spoof that put Japanese food on the world menu. In the film we see various shots of food which help us to think together the mixtures of genre and the contingent characters, along with the different plot and story. This film indicates the period in Japanese films that full classical American and Japanese movie conventions and contemporary cultures. Genres have been blended to give a thematic unity to the film. For example, there is a scene where the noodle master teaches the correct way to eat a bowl of noodle. Not only that, he describes how it should be cooked, addressed, approaches. Ebert said :

Thus food is increased to the level of a religion and even takes the place of sex and love (Ebert, 755). This is symptomatic of how the director takes the old genre of the spaghetti and  transforms it into a tale of noodles and food.


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