Monday, June 2, 2008

Chance favors the prepared mind

There is a saying, "Chance favors the prepared mind."

The other day I was organizing my past and future interlibrary loan requests. I am nearly through with my research, and would say that I have requested about 98% of the material I had hoped to examine. Among the items I was planning to look at was Shinko eiga, a Japanese film journal dating from the late 1920's. [I have looked at a few years worth of Movie Times, another Japanese movie magazine dating from the silent film era. It was a mostly Japanese language fan type publication, which included bits of English-language text and lots of pictures. The University of Chicago library has a long run of the publication. And the University of California, Davis has a shorter run. I have been to each library to examine copies.]

I figured I had better do a little research about Shinko eiga, to find out exactly when it started, what it covered, and most importantly, who might have copies which I might be able to borrow. And so, I googled the title. And came to a page on the University of Michigan's website devoted to the school's Center for Japanese Studies and it's prewar proletarian film movements collection. It is an amazing page, full of scans of Japanese film magazines dating from the late 1920's and early 1930's. I downloaded a few issues in order to check them out - to get a feel for what these publications were like.

I don't read the language, and can't tell what they are about. But I do understand pictures. And while skimming through the April 1930 issue of Shinko eiga I came across this page. I downloaded this particular issue because the web page synopsis stated the issue contained a "Special section on women, with several essays written by women. Opinions of filmmakers whose work was cut by the censors." That sounded intrigueing!

The picture of Louise Brooks - which I was so delighted to find (chance favors the prepared mind) - is from Pandora's Box. Perhaps this is some sort of review or article about the film, which was released in Europe just a years before ? Or perhaps it is about Brooks' role in the film? I just don't know. What also intrigued me was the fact that this publication was founded by the Proletarian Film League of Japan, a decidedly left leaning group. And the director of Pandora's Box, G.W. Pabst, was a known to have left leaning sympathies. [I once came across an article about Pabst in a similar German publication from the period.]

If anyone can tell me what this page is about, I would be very grateful. The image included above can be found on page 58 of the pdf of Shinko Eiga 2.4 (April 1930). Interested individuals or translators can check out the entire article. Whatever it turns out to be, it's a nice find.

[Individuals interested in world film history will want to check out the University of Michigan web page noted above. There is an issue of Eiga No Eiga (January 1928) which is devoted to Charlie Chaplin! Other issues and articles can be found devoted to Eisenstein and Pudovkin, etc....]

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