The Dragon Painter (1919)

Drama | 28 September 1919

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HISTORY

As noted in several modern title cards on the print viewed, the print was a 1988 preservation and restoration project of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at The American Film Institute, made in conjunction with the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House and The Museum of Modern Art, with restoration funding provided by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Japanese American National Museum.
       Other modern title cards explained that the restoration was copied from a tinted nitrate print circulated in France at the time of the picture's first release. That print was the only known surviving copy of the film. Intertitles on the film were translated into English from the French intertitles.
       The Dragon Painter was partly filmed in Yosemite Valley, CA where, according to a contemporary news item, the village of Hakone, Japan, including its famous Shinto gates, was duplicated. Haworth Pictures Corp. was Hayakawa's own production company. Sessue Hayakawa and Tsuru Aoki were married. The Dragon Painter was one of numerous films in which they appeared ... More Less

As noted in several modern title cards on the print viewed, the print was a 1988 preservation and restoration project of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at The American Film Institute, made in conjunction with the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House and The Museum of Modern Art, with restoration funding provided by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Japanese American National Museum.
       Other modern title cards explained that the restoration was copied from a tinted nitrate print circulated in France at the time of the picture's first release. That print was the only known surviving copy of the film. Intertitles on the film were translated into English from the French intertitles.
       The Dragon Painter was partly filmed in Yosemite Valley, CA where, according to a contemporary news item, the village of Hakone, Japan, including its famous Shinto gates, was duplicated. Haworth Pictures Corp. was Hayakawa's own production company. Sessue Hayakawa and Tsuru Aoki were married. The Dragon Painter was one of numerous films in which they appeared together. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
ETR
4 Oct 1919
p. 1585.
MPN
4 Oct 1919
p. 2877.
MPW
27 Sep 1919
p. 1943, 1966, 1975
MPW
4 Aug 1919
p. 161.
New York Morning Telegraph
28 Sep 1919.
---
New York Times
5 Oct 1919
Section IV, p. 5.
Variety
3 Oct 1919
p. 56.
Wid's
12 Oct 1919
p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Dragon Painter by Mary McNeil Fenollosa (Boston, 1906).
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 September 1919
Copyright Claimant:
The Haworth Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
10 September 1919
Copyright Number:
LU14161
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
5
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the heart of the Hanake Mountains of Japan lives Tatsu, known as the "Dragon painter." Although a brilliant young artist of untamed genius, Tatsu is nonetheless ridiculed for his belief that his fiancée was a beautiful princess turned into a dragon more than a thousand years ago. Hiding in the mountains, Tatsu produces beautiful paintings to satisfy his obsession. After government surveyor Undobuchida, called "Uchida,” sees and admires Tatsu's paintings, he persuades the artist to leave the mountains and accompany him to Tokyo, promising that he knows someone who will help him find the dragon princess. Unknown to Tatsu, Uchida wants to take him to the home of master artist Kano Indara, whose only child is a daughter, and who yearns for a son to carry on his tradition. Kano is greatly impressed with Tatsu's work and is happy to meet him, in the hope of finally having a worthy successor. Upon arriving in Tokyo, Tatsu is unimpressed with Kano's house and wants to leave, but when he sees Ume-Ko, the master's daughter, he falls immediately in love, convinced that she is his dragon princess. After proving himself as a painter, Tatsu and Ume-Ko soon marry, to the delight of Kano, but Tatsu's new happiness brings a complacency that makes him unable to paint. Thinking that she is the cause of the loss of her beloved husband's artistry and the unhappiness of her father, Ume-Ko leaves a note that implies she has committed suicide. Despondent over his loss, Tatsu attempts to drown himself, but is saved. Through his grief, Tatsu begins to have visions of Ume-Ko imploring him to paint again. ... +


In the heart of the Hanake Mountains of Japan lives Tatsu, known as the "Dragon painter." Although a brilliant young artist of untamed genius, Tatsu is nonetheless ridiculed for his belief that his fiancée was a beautiful princess turned into a dragon more than a thousand years ago. Hiding in the mountains, Tatsu produces beautiful paintings to satisfy his obsession. After government surveyor Undobuchida, called "Uchida,” sees and admires Tatsu's paintings, he persuades the artist to leave the mountains and accompany him to Tokyo, promising that he knows someone who will help him find the dragon princess. Unknown to Tatsu, Uchida wants to take him to the home of master artist Kano Indara, whose only child is a daughter, and who yearns for a son to carry on his tradition. Kano is greatly impressed with Tatsu's work and is happy to meet him, in the hope of finally having a worthy successor. Upon arriving in Tokyo, Tatsu is unimpressed with Kano's house and wants to leave, but when he sees Ume-Ko, the master's daughter, he falls immediately in love, convinced that she is his dragon princess. After proving himself as a painter, Tatsu and Ume-Ko soon marry, to the delight of Kano, but Tatsu's new happiness brings a complacency that makes him unable to paint. Thinking that she is the cause of the loss of her beloved husband's artistry and the unhappiness of her father, Ume-Ko leaves a note that implies she has committed suicide. Despondent over his loss, Tatsu attempts to drown himself, but is saved. Through his grief, Tatsu begins to have visions of Ume-Ko imploring him to paint again. Inspired, he paints masterpieces that are then exhibited to great acclaim in the Tokyo. After Tatsu's success, Ume-Ko, who had not killed herself, leaves the cloister in which she had been living and is reunited with her husband, assuring him that sorrow has restored his genius and he now has learned that love must be art's servant. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.