Did everyone but me know about this?
I know there are worse losses for cineastes than this: the full, ten hour-long version of Greed, say, or the German version of Metropolis, not to mention the films of Theda Bara.
And yet I mourn, more than those, the loss of Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu, a.k.a. King Kong Appears in Edo. Made in either 1934 or 1938--there are contradictory references on this--it was released in 1938 and was arguably Japan's first kaiju movie.
What did it have, besides Kong? A hunchback, expressionistic architecture, Kong fighting a giant bumblebee, and Kong fighting an enormous ant lion.
This wasn't the only pre-WW2 Japanese King Kong movie; there was also Wasei Kingu Kongu (1933) and Kingu Kongu Zenkouhen (1938), the latter featuring a Kong-versus-samurai throwdown. But neither of those had Kong fighting giant monsters or the surreality of Kong climbing on Dr. Caligari-style architecture.
Fabulous. I wonder what the very first Kaiju are (looking at all Japanese media: writing, theatre, whatever). Is this actually a very old form given new expression, or possibly a response to Japan's modernisation drive after 1860? (subsidiary questions for academic paper: what defines kaiju? Is there a scale cutoff for the monster, below which it's just an 'ordinary' 'ghost,' kami or whatever?)
Have you seen any other stills? Is the city recognisably Tokyo, or does it take place against some sort of Romance of Architecture?
Finally - what happened to Theda Bara's films? I've been intrigued about her ever since I first came across the name in Shadows of Yog Sothoth (see? game geek and early film geek). I was planning to see some before I die.
The Japanese record of film preservation sounds even more horrible than the American record of film preservation (which after the 1930s improved considerably).
I found one reference which states that only 70 films before 1930 in Japan are in Tokyo's National Film Center, even though 7000 films were produced in the 1920s alone. That's astounding.
On May 3rd, 2007 12:31 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
King Kong Arrives in Edo I knew about, but I had no idea there were other early Japanese Kong films. Do you have any references to Wasei Kingu Kongu (1933) and Kingu Kongu Zenkouhen (1938) where I can read more about them? Very exciting. I keep quixotically hoping someone will find and restore a copy of such lost kaiju eiga.
I'm not up in the technicalities, but I read somewhere that early Japanese film stock was of a kind susceptible to extreme deterioration, which is one reason why so much of the early work has been lost.
Unfortunately I discovered the references to those two films online, and haven't found any more information on them, or on King Kong Arrives in Edo, in any of the print resources here or in any of the databases.
I'd love to see a found-and-restored version of one of those early kaiju films, too.
this was just boingboinged; perhaps you know it already, but I'd hate to let a zeppelin go by without saying 'look up!' to you...
Apparently the only stills available are in Japanese-language books never translated into English. I haven't even been able to find out which books, or their authors.
I need an otaku with a fixation on primates to help me on this one, I think.
On August 24th, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
There seems to have been no information at all about this film before 2004 or so. No mention in 'Famous Monsters of Film land' which regularly had articles about lost or rare sci fi/horror films. No film books mention this film. Fuminori Ohashi, who worked on the Godzilla/Gojira films never mentioned this film once in numerous interviews, despite the fact this would have been his first film as a special effects artist, and he would not have that position again for 16 years when 'Gojira'. One would reasonably believe that Ohashi might have mentioned working on this film.
The supposed director (Sôya Kumagai) has no autobiographical information at all, and no other film credits are to be found, either on imdb, or through other extensive searches on the internet.
The supposed writer (Daijô Aoyama) has no autobiographical information at all, and no other film credits are to be found, either on imdb, or through other extensive searches on the internet.
Fuminori Ohashi, a real special effects and costume/make up artist, is noted as being the special effects man here. If this is to be believed, then he worked on this as a special effects artist and then did nothing until Gojira (1954) 16 years later
The supposed company that made that has only one other credit to its name and that is the other fictional Kong movie the hoaxer posted: Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu: Ôgon no maki (1938) this alleged company produced no other films.
None of the following cast members have any other film credits whatsoever. You would think that at least a few of them would have done films before and after. The overwhelming majority of these alleged actors seem to not have existed, save for this alleged film:
The only exceptions being: Reiko Mishima has one other alleged film credit in 1940's 'Ryôgoku no san'nin-musume Noboru Takashima has five other film credits in 1931-1932, then only the alleged Kong film in 1938, and nothing beyond that. The 6 year lapse in activity is somewhat odd. Fuminori Ohashi, who as previously mentioned, never mentioned this film during his lifetime.
The only alleged photos from this film are exceptionally small jpeg files which make close inspection very difficult. One photo seems to show a man in a gorilla costume holding a female doll and scaling what seems to be re-dressed packing crates. Given that the alleged film takes place in Edo during the middle ages, you would expect to see the architecture typical of Japan at that time (Sloped triangular roofs) instead of the box like buildings that are shown. The second photo alleges to show a movie poster, but again the image size is too small to accurately scrutinize. It looks to be a re-dressed 'Gojira' poster from 1954, only with images of what seems to be a man in ape make up, and a miniature female. In short, it looks like it was done in Adobe Photoshop and then shrunk small enough to deter close inspection. On message boards and on Wikipedia, the author(s?) mention that these photos come from "rare books" found in Japan. It's pretty likely that if this film actually existed, we would have found many more images, and someone in Japan would have surely scanned photos from these books and uploaded larger images. The characters listed for this film feature an unusual number of characters with first and surnames. Search most films from Japan, or America, at that time and it would be unusual for so many minor characters to be listed by first and last name. Usually only the main characters would have these distinctions.
On August 24th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Some characters listings are just simply odd: 'Man in charcoal shop', 'Boy in rice shop', 'Kuroami, hunchback', as well as the misspelled (at least I believe it's misspelled) ' Clerk at soy source shop'. I'm guessing Kuroami the hunchback stopped by the rice shop, patted the boy on the head, bought some charcoal at the charcoal shop (31 kinds of charcoal: we guarantee it!) stopped by the 'soy source shop' and then went home to barbeque his rice. Perhaps he did all this prior to Kong's arrival, or perhaps this was part of the celebration after Kong was defeated!
In addition, the article cites supposed negative reviews, a build up towards the release date, "rare books" that have photos that "prove" the films existence, but never state the title of these books, when they were published, what newspapers reviewed this film, what the reviewers actually said, where they got any of this information or any other evidence to corroborate that this movie existed. With such a big build up to the release date, one would surmise that there would be quite a lot of surviving publicity materials such as stills, lobby cards, and posters. Even in 1930s Japan films were advertised in newspapers. Why haven't these surfaced? Why was there apparently no mention or recollection of this film from 1938-2005 or so???
Another oddity is that other than stating that Kong attacks medival Edo, the writer/writers/hoaxer(s)do not specify what the actual plot was. For instance, how was Kong brought to Edo? How was he defeated?
Like Martin Balsam's detective character in 'Psycho' said: "This ain't jelling"
None of this proves that the film does not exist, but give the growing number of improbabilities, and inconsistencies, it's hard to conclude that this is anything other than a hoax.
I found a poster from a 30's magazine on line for this last night. I was going to post the link, however today the link does not work. I was able to save the picture however. The poster of the thread did not say what magazine the ad came from, and no picture of the magazine was posted.Unfortunately I guess I cannot post the picture here, or is there a way?