THE ART OF THE BENSHI - NIGHT ONE

Showings

THEATER 1 Tue, Apr 16 6:00 PM
LIMITED TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE

Description

THE DULL SWORD (NAMAKURA GATANA)
1917, dir. Junichi Kochi
Japan, 5 min. 
Silent / Format: Digital 
An overly confident samurai looks for unsuspecting victims on which to try out his new sword but neither his targets nor his weapon prove willing to play along. THE DULL SWORD is the oldest known surviving example of moving image anime, simply drawn but highly expressive in its satirical take on period genre conventions. Exhibition materials courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan. Performed by Ichiro Kataoka. 

A STRAIGHTFORWARD BOY (TOKKAN KOZÔ)
1929, Ozu Yasujiro
Japan, 21 min. 
Silent / Format: Digital 
Precocious children often take center stage in the works of Japanese master Ozu Yasujiro (I WAS BORN BUT…, GOOD MORNING), with this fragment of a silent comedy short offering an early glimpse of his felicity with childhood. Trouble abounds for a pair of kidnappers who underestimate the energies of their young abductee who quickly challenges their patience for the job. This version includes seven more minutes than the previously known extant versions thanks to a newly discovered print. Performed by Hideyuki Yamashiro. 

 

THE GOLDEN FLOWER (KOGANE NO HANA)
1929, dir. Noburo Ofuji
Japan, 17 min. 
Silent / Format: 35mm
This charming example of stop-motion collage tells the story of a ceremonial dancer who encounters a demon serpent in the hills while on his way home after performing at a harvest festival. He escapes the encounter and returns with a group of villagers to destroy the creature, but its spirit has the last laugh. Produced by studio Chiyogami Eiga-sha, THE GOLDEN FLOWER suggests the rich variety of styles being explored by early Japanese animators. Performed by Kumiko Omori. 

 

THE WATER MAGICIAN (TAKI NO SHIRAITO)
1933, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan, 102 min. 
Silent / Format: Digital 
The elements of director Kenji Mizoguchi’s mature style are evident everywhere in this  galvanizing melodrama adapted from a novel by Kyoka Izumi. High angle shots and sweeping camera movements lend a distinctly modern dynamism to the story of a woman (Takako Irie) who sacrifices everything she has to ensure the future of a young man (Tokihiko Okada) who captures her imagination. Irie delivers a powerful, moving performance as a theater performer whose good deed leads to tragedy as Mizoguchi (UGETSU, THE LIFE OF OHARU) interrogates the shifting strata of Japanese society. Of course, benshi played an essential role in the original release of THE WATER MAGICIAN in Japan, but the benshi of a generation later played an equally important role in the film’s restoration in 2006. Exhibition materials courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan. Performed by Kumiko Omori.