20 April 2010
There’s a 1911 film called Rashomon listed in IMDB. That’s before the Rashomon & In a Grove stories were published. Does anyone know anything about this ?
I know nothing certain, but it could be an adaptation of the 15th century noh play of that name by Kanze Nobumitsu. Or something that deals with the gate.
Japanese films in that time period were recorded purely for exhibition, largely done by or on behalf of the French by the Japanese, in order for the French to market their still and still-motion cameras to London and New York. And even then these were not Japan’s first movies, but simply short recording of noh plays, typically no longer then 35-40 seconds due to the processes and length of film limitation in the cameras.
These recordings started around the very late 1890’s, up until roughly 1920s, when Japan first started actual silent film productions as that of the west, until then it was purely noh plays, and even then, in the 1920’s I believe most film were just noh plays adjusted for a camera audience.
To my knowledge these recordings were never shown to the Japanese, nor ever intended for any audience to view as works of art, but rather advertisement, and showcases of the camera technology, for world fairs, and would be camera buyers in American and Europe.
I may however be wrong on this part, as I’m unsure, nor have I read any information about the actual use of motion pictures for the typical Japanese, most things I’ve read only show such devices being shown to the Japanese royalty, by western elite as means of displaying the wonders the west can offer the east. That is up until the 1920’s, when cinema changed, to which most of knowledge in cinema starts, before that, I can only offer limited information.
What this film Rashomon was about, I have no idea, and properly is simply a recording of Nobumitsu’s noh play as Vili mentions. If you’re wonder to any connection between this film, and Kurosawa. I could only guess, but I’m still entirely positive, it played no role- at least the film itself, and properly too the play-but I’m unfamiliar about it contents.
I’m sure you can find more information from Kyoto University, they have the best archive and information of Japanese cinema in the world. Also nearly any book that goes into early French cinema will have something about the exhibition recordings done by French, and the early founders of cinema and camera, ideally looking towards the Lumiere brothers in this case, as they are widely known for recording Asian, and Middle Eastern arts.
23 April 2010
That’s interesting reading, Jeremy! As far as I know, there is no connection between the noh play and Kurosawa’s film. Not that I have read the play.
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