The Wrath of the Gods
An American sailor falls in love with a fisherman's daughter and convinces her that Jesus is more powerful than the gods who have cursed her.An American sailor falls in love with a fisherman's daughter and convinces her that Jesus is more powerful than the gods who have cursed her.An American sailor falls in love with a fisherman's daughter and convinces her that Jesus is more powerful than the gods who have cursed her.
Ince's script consisted of an American shipwrecked sole survivor washed up on a Japanese island. He's found by the father (played by Sessue Hayakawa) of a daughter who is cursed by the island's religious leaders of igniting the local volcano if she marries. The local youths are told to stay away from the woman, but the American, played by Frank Borzage, falls in love with her. They marry, setting off a fiery chain of events.
Leading up to its premier in June, "The Wrath of the Gods" production studio New York Picture Corporation unveiled a publicity campaign not seen to this extent before. From February during its filming all the way to its premier, the studio ran ads in major publications hyping the movie. Its opening at New York City's recently opened movie palace The Strand caused such a sensation, especially aroused seeing its volcanic special effects, that film audiences flocked to see the motion picture. Film exhibitor Marcus Loew rented Brooklyn, N. Y.'s Ebbets Field to accommodate 20,000 paying customers for the projected movie. Over 40,000 showed up, only to see thousands turned away because of the limited capacity. This resulted in a riot where three New York City police precincts responded to contain the damage.
Its Japanese premier in 1918, was far different in scope. After one showing, "The Wrath of the Gods" was banned from Japan. Officials in that country were outraged at its portrayal of Japanese culture showcasing its barbarity and its Christianity over Buddhism message.
"The Wrath of the Gods" is also noteworthy of being Sessue Hayakawa's first movie he appeared in. The Japanese-born actor was a stage performer in the United States when Ince saw him in the play "Typhoon." Impressed, the film producer immediately signed him to a contract, beginning Hayakawa's lengthy movie career. Today's audiences will recognize him by his Academy Award nominated Best Supporting Actor role in 1957's "The Bridge Over The River Kwai" as the Japanese camp commandant. Hayakawa was dating the female lead in "The Wrath of the Gods," Tsuru Aoki (who played his daughter) while filming the movie, and both married a month before the picture premiered.
Frank Borzaga, the American lover in the film, broke into cinema as an actor before turning to directing in 1915. He earned the Academy Awards first Best Director trophy for his 1927 movie "7th Heaven," followed up three years later with another Best Director Academy Award for his 1931 "Bad Girl."
- May 22, 2021