The Water Magician / Taki no shiraito
d. Kenji Mizoguchi / 1933 / Japan / 98 min
Silent Film & Live Music series @ Barbican (London, UK)
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the American film industry was clamouring to update to the latest sound technology in the hope of capturing an ever-lucrative market share, Japanese cinema audiences were beholden to a vastly different way of experiencing the moving image.
Developed from long-practiced traditions of Noh and kubuki theatre, films of the silent era – both local and imported – were interpreted for Japanese audiences by live benshi narrators, who would relate the story, give voice to the characters and apply their own personalities to an entirely unique brand of cinematic storytelling.