Friday, March 4, 2011
Benshi is a narrator who stands beside silent films reading out the intertitles to audience and explaining the action.
If you are into Japanese film and culture, you will get a chance to hear Kataoka Ichiro in action when the 1933 Japanese silent-film classic, The Water Magician, screens at the Playhouse on March 6 as part of Screen Live series. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, one of the Japan's greatest directors, the film tells a griping tale of a woman's love and sacrifice. Actress Takako Irie stars as a water juggler in a travelling circus who falls in love with a coach driver. The Water Magician, set in 1890, is one of the surviving silent films and features three trademark Mizoguchi elements: ill-fated women, extreme emotion and tragic love.
The film intertitles are in English but Ichiro will perform the film in Japanese, Ichiro will demonstrate why benshi were so beloved that many developed their own following among Japanese cinema-goers.More than 7000 benshi were working in Japan at the peak of the silent-film era. Today, a small group of benshi specialist continue to hone their skills, many are descendants of Matsuda Shunsui, a child benshi in the pre-war period who devoted himself to preserving the films and performance style of Japanese silent cinema.
(The Water Magician)