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The Dragon Painter (1919)

A wild man and genius becomes a master painter's disciple, but loses his divine gift when he finds love.


Richard Schayer (scenario) (as E. Richard Schayer), Mary McNeil Fenollosa (based on the novel "The Dragon Painter" by)
1 win. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Sessue Hayakawa ... Tatsu - the Dragon Painter
Tsuru Aoki ... Ume-Ko
Edward Peil Sr. ... Kano Indara (as Edward Peil)
Toyo Fujita Toyo Fujita ... Undobuchida 'Uchida'


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 page8701

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance



Did You Know?


The final scene of the movie shows Tatsu and Ume-Ko on location at Yosemite's Artist Point. See more »


Kano Indara: They tell me you're a painter of dragons?
Tatsu - the Dragon Painter: I paint nothing else!
Kano Indara: In this painting, where is the dragon?
Tatsu - the Dragon Painter: It's sleeping under the waters of the lake!
See more »

Alternate Versions

In March 1988, a preservation and restoration project was started by The National Center for Film and Video at The American Film Institute, in conjunction with The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House and The Museum of Modern Art. It was completed in 1989. Milestone Film and Video added a music score by Mark Izu in its 50-minute release of 2005, with an extra 3 minutes added for restoration credits and explanatory remarks. See more »

User Reviews

Deserves to be seen
4 April 2008 | by osolisSee all my reviews

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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Release Date:

28 September 1919 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dragon Painter See more »

Filming Locations:

Coronado, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(2005 release)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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