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
I had never heard of The Dragon Painter and decided to watch it. I'm glad I did. It is a beautiful film, almost devoid of the clichés of silent-era acting (broad mannerisms, excessive mugging, etc) that make many silent films so comical to audiences today.
The lead actor is Sessue Hayakawa, who many film fans may remember as the Pirate Captain in the Disney version of Swiss Family Robinson or from Bridge on the River Kwai. Here he delivers a great performance as a "mad" artist that is at times comical and tragic.
The cinematography and art direction are wonderful, as is the soundtrack.
If I have one complaint it is that the inter-titles play too long on the screen. But this is a minor quibble.
A simple tale of madness, loss, redemption and ultimately love, I can't recommend this film highly enough.
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