Saturday, September 28, 2013

About the Meal Prepared by the Cultural Elites and its Nutritional Merits

Promotional Advertisement for URLAUB AUF EHRENWORT
in Japanese Film Magazine, NIHON EIGA, June 1941

While UNTERNEHMEN MICHAEL (1938) was released after Japanese censorship had butchered it, another Karl Ritter's film, URLAUB AUF EHRENWORT (1938) was banned in its entirety. According to Akira Iwasaki, the official reason given was that film depicted the officer's insubordination to the orders. However, by the time its ban was announced, this film had already been screened to directors, producers, writers and critics in film industries, and some magazines published their reviews and discussions on their pages even. These insiders praised URLAUB AUF EHRENWORT unanimously, some calling it a masterpiece. Around the same time, Marlene Dietrich's DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939) was being shown in theaters. Many critics despised DESTRY, calling it an empty-headed, escapist, silly entertainment. Superficially, the contrast seems obvious: Hollywood films (the potential enemy state) were deemed as 'degenerate' entertainment, while the Germans (our ally) provided 'high art' firmly deeply rooted in centuries of their culture. However, there seems to be more than that.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Sometime ago, I posted the LITTLE LORD FAUNTRELOY advertisement page from an ancient Kinema Jumpo and the leaflet I found between its pages. Here are some other pages from the same issue.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

'Mis'-interpretting UNTERNEHMEN MICHAEL


Karl Ritter's direction is skillful, but it is the soul of filmmaking that shine through more brilliantly than skill. The soul to make something complete is within him. A great filmmaker.
- Kenji Mizoguchi on Karl Ritter (1940)

I think Karl Ritter is overrated tremendously. When he handles a patriotic subject, he uses an extremely vulgar approach.
- Joseph Goebbels on Karl Ritter (1939)

In 1940, a German UFA production, UNTERNEHMEN MICHAEL was imported to Japanese market, only to be censored by the Japanese officials before its release in theaters. One of the leading movie magazines at the time, STAR, printed the round-table discussion on the film by prominent film artists - Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Tomotaka Tasaka, Tomu Uchida and Isamu Kosugi. They saw the original version before the censorship, and from their experience, they knew this film would be exorcised by Japanese censorship.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two Totalitarian Regimes, Two films

From June 1941 issue of NIHON EIGA

As I mentioned before, foreign film market in 1930's Japan was very lively and energetic, even in the eve of Pearl Harbor attack. Especially German and Austrian cinema were quite popular, not just because Japan had a political alliance with the Nazi regime, but also because people simply loved sweet scent of Hapsburg Empire and of German clinical efficiency. As I read through several literatures and contemporary periodicals, I find many of their observations on certain films, aesthetics, film techniques or directors were radically different from our views today. One of such examples is the case for Karl Ritter.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Little Leaflet from 90 Years Ago

A few days ago, I received the package from the bookstore specialized in vintage movie magazines. I won several issues of Kinema Junpo from 1920's and '30s from the online auction. Kinema Junpo is one of the oldest periodical publication on movies, dating back to 1919, and still in business. One of the issues in the package was dated March 11, 1924. It's only 28 pages, including covers, but to me, it contains a wealth of information about the movie experience almost 90 years ago. Between its pages, I found a small sheet of paper. It is printed on both sides, then folded in half at the center. It is a leaf from a movie theater program. Titled "ORIENTAL NEWS" in excessively decorated letters, this somewhat yellowing paper informs us movie experience at TOYO KINEMA, one of the most prestigious theaters in Tokyo area before World War II. The original owner of the magazine must have stuck it between the pages of the magazine, and forgotten about it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tokyo Olympic

Well, it's final.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Foreign Films during the War Years

Japan had been one of the largest market for European and Hollywood films in the Eastern hemisphere until its totalitarian regime attacked the Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941. Though the government was hostile toward the Allies, Japanese film exhibitors were still importing and marketing Hollywood films even in 1941.
Copyright © vermillion and one nights
Blogger Theme by BloggerThemes Design by