Japan on Film
The vibrancy of the Meiji era is revealed in these early films of Japan, restored by the BFI National Archive.
Early filmmakers had a particular fascination for Japan. Nearly all the early film companies sent cameramen to capture the landscapes, temples, processional events, festivals and customs of the islands. The Japanese aesthetic was influential and fashionable in the western nations in the early 20th century, so audiences were thrilled to see the country and its people on film. This selection of views of Japan between 1902 and 1913 - broadly coinciding with the end of the Meiji era - all survive at the BFI National Archive and have been restored and digitised to coincide with the celebrations around the 2020/21 Olympics held in Tokyo. Many of the French Pathé titles still have their original stencil colouring, which adds to their charm.
The collection also includes two films shot outside Japan that reflect widespread western interest in Japanese culture of the time, and Around Japan with a Movie Camera, a compilation specially created for the BFI London Film Festival 2021.
Intense interest in Japan by the West made it a favourite destination for filmmakers from the earliest days of film. This selection of films from 1901 to 1913, newly restored by the BFI National Archive, takes us on a fascinating journey through Meiji Japan.
A wild boat ride through the Hozu River’s white-water rapids, set against a beautifully coloured natural background.
Be prepared to get drenched as you slip past dangerous rocks in this violent ride down the rapidly flowing Hozu River.
Non-Fiction19120 minsSilent Location: London
Journalists congregate outside the Japanese embassy in London following the announcement of the death of the Emperor Meiji.
Celebrations for the festival, including a Courtesans’ procession, the parade of mikoshi (portable shrines) and traditional theatre.
The performance of a masked dancer is followed by a scene from a kendo match, contrasting grace and ferocity.