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The Vindictive Snake + short films

A Japanese woman and man standing by the ocean.
April 21, 2024 - 3:00 pm
Live narration by benshi Ichirō Kataoka, Kumiko Ōmori and Hideyuki Yamashiro.

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.

The Dull Sword

Namakura Gatana, Japan, 1917

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.

DCP, silent, tinted, 5 min. Director: Junichi Kōchi. DCP courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan.

The Immigrant

U.S., 1917

One of seven films written and directed by Charlie Chaplin on the National Film Registry, The Immigrant follows the Tramp’s delightfully slapstick comic misadventures from the deck of a steamship sailing by the Statue of Liberty to the streets of America where penury and romance follow in short order. Working with essential on-screen collaborators Edna Purviance and Eric Campbell, Chaplin reworked the storyline and gags on the fly during production to craft this iconic comedy.

DCP, b&w, silent, 24 min. Director: Charlie Chaplin. Screenwriter: Charlie Chaplin, Vincent Bryan, Maverick Terrell. With: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell.

Not Blood Relations

Japan, 1916

Based on a contemporary-set novel by Yanagawa Shun'yo, Not Blood Relations was adapted to the Japanese stage with multiple film versions to follow, including director Naruse Mikio’s take in 1932. Director Inoue Masao also stars in this 1916 adaption which follows the destruction of a businessman and his family as mounting scandals reawaken lingering hatreds and induce new crimes. This surviving fragment features three sequences from the original film, including its denouement.

DCP, b&w, silent with Japanese intertitles, 12 min. Director: Inoue Masao. Cast: Inoue Masao, Kinoshita Kichinosuke, Akimoto Kikuya.

The Oath of the Sword

U.S., 1914

The rediscovery of The Oath of the Sword in 2016 and its subsequent restoration by the Japanese American National Museum and George Eastman Museum brought a lost film back to the screen and illuminated a long-overlooked facet of early film history. A tragic tale of ambition and love betrayed, it was produced by a Los Angeles-based company founded by Japanese immigrants and featured Japanese actors in the lead roles, making it the earliest known Asian American film production.

DCP, tinted, silent, 31 min. Director: Frank Shaw. With: Tomi Morri, Miss Hisa Numa, Yutaka Abe. Restored by the Japanese American National Museum and George Eastman Museum. Funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation. Digital restoration from a 35mm nitrate print and 35mm safety negative from the George Eastman Museum collection was done at Eastman Museum Film Preservation Services and at Colorlab. DCP courtesy of George Eastman Museum.

The Vindictive Snake

Japan, 1932

A vengeful ghost takes center stage in this rarely seen, early Japanese horror film shot in Okinawa and Hawaii. An immigrant story gone wrong, it stars Okinawan native Seizen Toguchi, who also wrote the script, as a husband who emigrates with his wife from Okinawa to Oahu where they find work on a sugarcane plantation. When she contracts leprosy, he abandons her and flees back to Japan only to be driven mad, years later, by her spirit, transformed into the serpent of the title. A seminal genre work with roots in Okinawan folklore, The Vindictive Snake is the oldest known narrative film shot in Okinawa.

DCP, tinted, silent, 71 min. Director: Jirō Yoshino. Screenwriter: Seizen Toguchi. With: Seizen Toguchi.