An inquiry from a colleague who posted to the KineJapan list; perhaps someone
here knows something about this:
Right now I am doing some research on one of the pioneering figures of
cinema, Kawaura Ken'ichi, founder and president of Yoshikawa Shoten (which
began film promotion in mid-late 1897). According to legend he first came into
possession of a Cinematograph in the spring of that year when an indirect
acquaintance of his , Braccialini@iian Italian military advisor working in
Japan), suddenly appeared at his office headquarters with several porters
lugging the still-crated machine up the stairs.
In a recently (2004) published book,*NIHON NO KATSUDO SHASHIN*--in which film
document archivist Honchi Haruhiko collects and edits most of Tanaka
Jun'ichiro's previously unpublished essays, we find Tanaka quoting from an
early memoire written by Nakagawa Keiji, who had been a benshi in the very
early days of Yoshizawa Shoten. In the quote, Nakagawa asserts that
had "bought a Cinematographe directly from the Lumieres and brought it
him [to Japan] when he returned from a holiday in France."
Here's my query: DID THE LUMIERES IN THE VERY EARLY DAYS ACTUALLY SELL THEIR
CINEMATOGRAPHE OUTRIGHT? Up to now it has been my understanding that the L
brothers were adamant about keeping control of the Cinematographe and
passed it on to others only under a lease contract, in which they kept
possesion of their machine. Such appears to have been the case of Inabata
Katsutaro, who arrived in Japan in late February 1897 with his Cinematographe
(accompanied by Lumieres company man Constant Jirel who, according to the
contract, was to operate as technician-cum-"checker"). I also seem to remember
that similar conditions (along with the sending of a Lumieres "checker) were
imposed when promoters from other parts of the world got their
Cinematographes.Since Braccialini obtained his machine immediately after
Inabata, it would make sense that he would have been given the same terms.
Is there anyone on the list knowledgable enough about Lumieres business
practices in the very early days to answer my query? Or could you point me to
someone who does? The standard histories probably would not go into such
minutiae as the circumstances under which the L brothers would grant
to their own company rules...Then again I could be completely barking up the
wrong tree and am mistaken about the rule itself.
Despite it being a fairly minor detail, I need to grasp the situation in order
to properly envision the very early days of film promotion in Japan for a book
on the subject I am presently writing.
Peter B. High
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