The Spell of Japan

Source: Isabel Anderson, The Spell of Japan (Boston: The Page Company, 1914), p. 259

Text: Moving-picture shows are very popular in Japan as elsewhere. Once, when we were lunching at the hotel in Yokohama, a very pretty American woman made up as a Japanese came into the room, attracting a great deal of attention. We were quite unable to make out the situation, but were afterward told that she belonged to an American moving-picture company and had just come in from rehearsal.

Everywhere the “movie” is taking the place of the story-teller, who used to hire a room and tell over and over the tales of love and adventure which the people enjoy. Only the more prosperous can afford to see the geishas dance, but crowds flock to see them on the screen. They also see their native plays acted quite as realistically as on the stage, where the actors might as well be dumb since they do not speak the common language.

Comments: Isabel Anderson (1876-1948), born Isabel Ward Perkins, was an American heiress whose husband was US ambassador to Japan. I cannot find a record of any American film having been made in Japan at this period.

Links: Copy at Hathi Trust

A Spanish Holiday

Source: Charles Marriott, A Spanish Holiday (New York: John Lane, 1908), pp. 308-309

Text: On account of the fiesta, I suppose, we found the Zocodovér dark and deserted after dinner and all Toledo gathered upon a little arc-lighted, bat-haunted terrace with a privet hedge and mulberry trees overlooking the black gulf of the Tagus. For entertainment there was a band, an open-air cafe, and a kinematograph which promised pictures of “The Chicago Tramways, Japanese Painters at work, The San Francisco Earthquake, The Ascent of Mont Blanc, and The Assassination of the King and Queen of Servia.” In contrast to the evening crowd at Madrid, everybody here seemed to be friendly, content to walk up and down, eat caramels or the marchpane for which Toledo is famous, listen to the band, and answer with alacrity the purring of the electric bell which announced that another representation of the pictures was about to begin.

Comments: Charles Marriott (1869-??) was an American writer. A Spanish Holiday is a travel book. King Alexander and Queen Draga of Serbia were assassinated in 1903; the San Francisco earthquake was in 1906.

Links: Copy at Hathi Trust

Lege Bioskoop

Source: Paul van Ostaijen, ‘Lege Bioskoop’, in Bezette Stad (Antwerp: Sienjaal, 1921)


Comments: Paul van Ostaijen (1896-1928) was a Belgian poet. His idiosyncratically-designed Bezette Stad (Occupied City) is a collection of poems influenced by Dadism and Expressionism which deals with his life in Antwerp during the First World War. It features many references to the cinema and film stars (particularly Asta Nielsen). The poem ‘Lege Bioskoop’ (Empty Cinema) has a pianist playing to films in an empty cinema, building the music up to a gallop. I have not been able to find an English translation, and cannot match the titles Eenzame Bank, De Duivelse Vrouw or Arme Meisje van Belleville to any known films. My thanks to Karel Dibbets for drawing my attention to van Ostaijen’s work.

Links: Copy of Bezette Stad at Project Gutenberg
Copy of Bezette Stad at the International Dada Archive at the University of Iowa Libraries