Comparative Japanese Film Archive

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A database of film video clips and benshi audio clips from the early twentieth century, with annotations and metadata that can be shared with consortial institutions for scholarly and instructional activities.


"Originally a scholar of Japanese modernist literature of the 1920s, I have expanded my scope from the analysis of literature and magazine culture to a wider examination of interactions across media, in particular between film and literature. With the advent of technology and the already globalized socio-economic context of 1920s Japan, writers explored the adaptability of various new mass media, seeking to invent new narrative styles suitable to depicting the life and psychology of the modern world. During the same time, filmmakers often adapted literary techniques into their cinematic grammar. My article on the trans- and inter-media explorations by Japanese benshi (film narrator/performer/commentator) has been published in an academic journal, Japan Forum. I see that this critical cross-examination of the narrative strategies of literature and cinema is crucial not only for the analysis of the 1920s, but also in the study of the development of modern narratives over the entire 20th century and up to the present time. In addition to taking a global approach to theory and knowledge about moving images, I would like to study further the specific history and production of Japanese cinema. This video/audio clip and still image database is provided to assist others in their research and instruction. I view this site as a venue for my collaborative research and archive building with two academic research groups comprised with film scholars in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Germany."



Crossroads Benshi Restored from Digital Humanities Initiative on Vimeo.

Comparative Japanese Film Project - Hamilton Benshi Students Interview from Digital Humanities Initiative on Vimeo.

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