Seiyukai Sosai Tanaka Giichi-shi Enzetsu

T. int.: The Speech of Prime Minister [Discorso del primo ministro Tanaka] Prod.: Showa Kinema Hassei Eiga Kyokai 35mm. D.: 6’ a 21 f/s. Bn.

info_outline
T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Founded on January 1st, 1927, Showa Kinema Hassei Eiga Kyokai was estab­lished specifically to produce sound films by Yoshizo Minagawa (1882-1960), origi­nally an Osaka-based trader in Western goods, who had acquired the Asian rights to Lee de Forest’s Phonofilm system in 1925 after attending a screening during a business trip to the United States. From July the same year he held several screen­ings, billed as ‘Films that talk’ (‘mono o iu firumu’) in Tokyo and other Japanese cities, and sent cameraman Yoshio Chiba and electrician Masao Igarashi to America in 1926 to study the technical aspects of the Phonofilm system at De Forest’s New York laboratory. Showa Kinema’s first productions, consisting of eleven shorts and one feature film, Kaoru Osanai’s lost avant-garde work Reimei, were finally screened on October 5th, 1927 at Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.
This film, restored by the National Film Center in 2005 from a 35mm nitrate print discovered in the Hagi Museum in Yama­guchi Prefecture, is the only Showa Kine­ma print to survive, albeit at a reduced length. It records a speech by then Prime Minister Tanaka Giichi (1864-1929), a former general, who was Prime Minister of Japan from 1927 to 1929, resigning from the office, after a dispute with the Emperor, in July of that year, only a few months before his death. He also held posts as foreign minister, home minister and colonial affairs minister. A conserva­tive nationalist, he implemented draco­nian anti-leftist policies including mass arrests of actual and supposed Commu­nist sympathisers, and pursued a hawkish foreign policy, sending troops to intervene in China in the Jinan Incident of 1927-8.
The identity of the cameraman is un­known, as is the exact date of shooting, but the film passed state censorship on February 6th, 1928, shortly before elec­tions for the House of Representatives, the lower house of Japan’s Diet. It fea­tures prime minister Tanaka standing in front of black drapes, talking directly into the camera. He presents his position on issues ranging from the economy to diplo­macy and foreign policy. The soundtrack was directly printed onto the film during shooting using a glow lamp as a modu­lator. As a historical record, the film is important since it not only constitutes Japan’s earliest surviving sound film, but also provides a record of concerns central to Japanese politics in the early Showa Era.

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The soundtrack has undergone noise reduction