Father and I

Source: Kazuo Koizumi, Father and I; memories of Lafcadio Hearn (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935, pp. 51-52

Text: Here is something quite different. It was once when father went to see a movie. One evening Lieutenant Fujisaki came saying that he was going to Kanda Kinkikan to see the moving pictures and couldn’t Kazuo go. That day not only I, but father and mother joined him. We were all seated on the right-hand side upstairs. The performance started with a phonograph which had a megaphone attachment. This was rolled to the centre of the stage and Japanese records were put on. After this was a sword dance by boys between twelve and thirteen, and at last, the long anticipated pictures came on. The first was of swimming and diving from high stands. The next picture was the one that we wanted to see — the English Transvaal War picture, but it turned out to be a very repulsive and tasteless coloured picture. The colour spoilt the faces and hands of the actors — made them look dark, and their clothes and hats of dark red, blue, or green seemed raised. When the mine (which was purple) was about to explode, the smoke effect looked like cheap painted papers pasted on. Lieutenant Fujisaki said the military march and camp appeared natural, but the picture of the combat and explosion was a trick which could be distinctly seen. The last picture was one of the President of the United States coming to San Francisco. This was colourless and natural, but the film was very poor and old, the spots marred the picture, and we seemed to be looking through hard rain or snow, and very indistinctly the people and vehicles passed before us with such
speed that it quite surprised us. They no sooner appeared from the left than they vanished as quickly to the right. Father, although he put his glass to his eye and tried to take them in, could not get any good idea of them. We all took away very strange impressions.

Comments: Kazuo Koizumi (1893-1965) was the son of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) and his Japanese wife Koizumi Setsu. Hearn was an Irish-Greek journalist and travel writer best known for his books on Japan, where he lived from 1890, taking on Japanese nationality with the name Koizumi Yakumo. The Transvaal War means the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, with these films probably being dramatised versions of events from the conflict. The film show probably took place in 1900. The colour films on show would have been hand-painted.

Links: Copy at Hathi Trust

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