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Tatsu is a slightly delusional painter who lives in the wilderness. He spends his days painting nothing but the image of his love, a princess he believes to have been incarnated as a dragon. His work is noticed by a servant of Kano Indara, an aging master painter who has no male heir or disciple to pass his skills to. The servant brings Tatsu to Indara under the belief that Indara can help him find his princess in exchange for allowing Indara to pass his knowledge on to him. Once there, Tatsu is led to believe that Indara's daughter, Ume Ko, is the princess. Tatsu agrees to stay, but now that he has found his love he no longer has the inspiration to paint the masterpieces that he once produced. Ume Ko pretends to kill herself so that Tatsu can once again find inspiration through his sorrow, and once he regains this she reveals herself to him. He has learned that "love must be a slave to art", and they live out the rest of their days together, with Tatsu painting her as he once did. Written by
Poetic, lyrical Japanese fantasy with Sessue Hayakawa as a mad painter...
This is a lyrical, visually arresting Japanese fairy-tale about a mad artist who is under the impression that the princess of his dreams lurks in an enchanted lake which has turned her into a dragon. SESSUE HAYAKAWA is the intense young man who becomes the protégé of a painter who is looking for new talent. When the man threatens to walk away, the painter reveals that he has a daughter whom he passes off as the princess the painter is looking for.
The trick works and before you know it, the two young people fall in love. But the art of painting eludes him once he has found his lost princess and therein lies the crux of the plot. How will he get it back unless she gives up her life so that her loss will be his gain?
It's an intriguing premise and it's artfully crafted from the very opening scene with outdoor backgrounds photographed in Yosemite to give an authentic feel to the settings. The print shown on TCM is in fairly good condition considering the age and the tinted effects for moonlight give it a haunting spell.
SESSUE HAYAKAWA makes a convincing mad genius and TSURU AOKI is fine as the princess of his dreams, in real life, his wife.
Summing up: For silent film fans, well worth watching with an appropriate background score and acting that is more natural than the usual silent screen technique you might expect. The photography throughout is on the artistic side.
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