Tokio: Ōraisha, . Octavo (19 × 13.5 cm). Publisher’s printed wrappers; 154 pp. Numerous illustrations. About very good. Item #6326
First edition. This survey of Soviet cinema by the left-leaning film critic and translator Fukuro Ippei was apparently the first monograph on the subject in Japanese. The work was published at a time when proletarian art and film was gaining momentum in Japan, yet many Soviet films could not be seen due to censorship. Commenting on this phenomenon, Chika Kinoshita writes: “The prelude to the Soviet film craze probably dates back to August 1926 when Hata Toyokichi, at the time living in Berlin as a businessman, published a short review of Battleship Potemkin in the bourgeois monthly Bungei shunju. […] Curiously, because of censorship, the import of theoretical writings preceded and overpowered that of actual films. Pudovkin’s The Storm over Asia (1928) did pass the censor and played in highbrow movie theaters in October 1930 as the first Soviet montage film. Other films such as The Old and the New (1929), The Earth (1930), The Man With a Movie Camera (1929, aka This is Russia!), and Mikhail Kaufman’s In Spring (1929) followed suit (these four films were all released in 1931), with varying degrees of “scissor damage” (contemporary film culture’s jargon for censorship)” (Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema, p. 140). However, the most representative works, such as Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and Pudovkin’s Mother were released in Japan only after WWII. Despite the film’s ban, this book reproduces stills from Potemkin as well as other unreleased films. The author, Fukuro Ippei, began writing film reviews in 1928 and was very familiar with Eisenstein’s work. Unlike most of his colleagues writing on Soviet cinema, Fukuro knew Russian and was the first to translate Eisenstein into Japanese for his essay series on Soviet film “Soveto onga shokan” in the journal Kinema junpo. His translations of Eisenstein’s “The Cinema of the Fourth Dimension” appeared in 1929 and “Montage and Japanese Culture” in 1930. In the latter essay (also known as “Beyond the Shot”) Eisenstein discusses Japanese culture as essentially montage driven, from haiku poetry to the hieroglyph, to N theater, and encourages Japanese filmmakers to turn to montage in their filmmaking also, a message that may have had special resonance for left-leaning Japanese film artists. KVK and OCLC only show the copy at the National Diet Library.