F program Japanese Masterpiece Selection 3: Recording Creatures
Four works selected from the even-now popular field of ecological observation that has produced films such as Winged Migration and March of the Penguins. Making use of a camera and a persevering staff, animals and insects are shown in ways heretofore unseen.
Life of a Cicada(“Semi no issho”)
- JAPAN / 1936 / Silent / B&W / 16mm / 10 min
Science Film Collection #7
Director: Ota Nikichi
Production Company: 16mm Eiga Kyoiku Fukyukai
Source: National Film Center
After being confined underground for many years, the cicada becomes an adult, and in only one week it leaves behind a child and reaches death. Ota Nikichi (1893–1954), a groundbreaker in Japanese science films, was involved in many different productions, making educational science films when he was an elementary-school teacher and in due course founding the “narrow-gauge film” department at the Jujiya musical-instrument store, handling numerous works.
One Day at the Tidelands(“Aruhi no higata”)
- JAPAN / 1940 / Japanese / B&W / 35mm / 17 min
Director: Shimomura Kenji
Photography: Sano Tokio
Producer: Watanabe Shunpei
Production Company: Riken Kagaku Eiga
Source: Yajima Hitoshi
Captured with a telephoto lens, all the variety of living things which frequent the tidelands are sketched in an amusing narrative style, integrating the story of the food chain. Shimomura Kenji (1903–1967) switched to filmmaking from wild-bird photography and was involved in many films about birds all the way through Snow Grouse (1967), made at the end of his life.
The Cabbage Butterfly(“Monshirocho: Kodo no jikken teki kansatsu”)
- JAPAN / 1968 / Japanese / Color / 16mm / 27 min
Director: Haneda Sumiko
Script: Haneda Sumiko, Maki Chu
Photography: Seki Haruo, Negishi Sakae, Okada Hisashi
Music: Miki Minoru
Commentary: Kurosawa Ryo
Producer: Maki Chu
Production Company: Iwanami Productions
Source: Iwanami Audio-visual Media
The mysteries of the behavior of the cabbage butterfly are revealed through multiple experiments. Haneda, dissatisfied with conventional scientific movies that tended simply to depict behavior, developed this project himself. Including the breeding of the butterflies, it ended up taking two years to film. Observe the ambitious production approach of the young Iwanami staff.
The Wisdom of the Orangutan(“Oranutan no chie”)
- JAPAN / 1960 / Japanese / B&W / Video (Original: 35mm) / 39 min
Directors: Fujiwara Tomoko, Yamaguchi Junko
Photography: Shirai Shigeru, Sakazaki Takehiko
Music: Nakamura Shinya
Commentary: Mochizuki Mamoru (Chiba University)
Production Company, Source: Nippon Eiga Shinsha
The sight of “Gypsy,” a female orangutan living in Tokyo’s Tama Zoological Park, attempting various intelligence tests is given a humorous commentary by psychologist Mochizuki. Produced as a fun family movie to be screened on the same bill with Toho dramas.