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Friday, Sept. 19, 2008

Travel back to the silent '30s

A special screening of vintage Japanese films in Tokyo on Sept. 27 will showcase six silent movies from the 1920s and '30s.

News photo
Before talkies: The silent animation film "Issun-boshi: Chibisuke Monogatari" ("Little Boy's Story"), produced in 1935, is one of six vintage movies being screened Sept. 27 in Akasaka, Tokyo. DIGITAL MEME IMAGE

One of the films, a 1935 animation titled "Issun-boshi: Chibisuke Monogatari" ("Little Boy's Story") is based on one of the oldest Japanese fairy tales. The movie, subtitled in English, will be narrated live in Japanese by Raiko Sakamoto, who will sit by the side of the screen in full view of audience and act out the film by providing the dialogue, exposition and general commentary.

This role performed by Sakamoto — known as that of a benshi in Japanese — used to accompany all showings of domestic and foreign silent movies in Japan from the late 1890s until the advent of talking pictures.

"Yaji Kita," a parody of an early 19th-century comic novel titled "Tokaidochu Hizakurige," was made in 1927. The 15-minute film will also be screened with English subtitles accompanied by Sakamoto as benshi (in Japanese).

"Ono ga Tsumi Sakubei (Sinful Sakubei's Story)" was produced in 1930. The 20-minute film is based on a heartwarming story that was serialized in newspapers in the 1930s. It will screen with English subtitles, accompanied by a recorded performance of the late benshi Shunsui Matsuyama.

"Koina no Ginpei Yuki no Wataridori" was produced in 1931. The film is based on a classic story written by Shin Hasegawa. The main actor in the movie is Tsumasaburo Bando, one of the greatest stars of the silent-movie era. The movie is 61 minutes long and has English subtitles and Sakamoto as the benshi.

Two other films will be shown with Chinese or Korean subtitles.

The screenings will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Akasaka Kumin Hall on the third floor of Akasaka Kumin Center, an eight-minute walk from Exit A of Akasaka Mitsuke Station on the Ginza and Marunouchi subway lines, or a 10-minute walk from Exit 4 of Aoyama Icchome Station on the Ginza, Hanzomon or Oedo subway lines.

Admission is ¥1,000. For reservations and more information, call Heart Connections at (03) 3472-2775 or Digital Meme at (03) 5467-4729.

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