by Chris MaGee
It's a bit of a famous anecdote that the filmmaker that iconic Japanese director Kon Ichikawa credited as being the biggest influence on him was Walt Disney. It makes sense seeing that Ichikawa began as a cartoonist and illustrator before shifting to filmmaking in 1946. In fact of the nearly 90 films that he directed in his six decade career that very first film was a 20-minute marionette puppet play produced by Toho titled "A Girl at Dojo Temple (Musume Dojoji)". The film was based on the famous kabuki story of Anchin and Kiyohime in which a bellmaker is pursued by a magical maiden who transforms into a serpent. It was during a recent wander through YouTube that to my surprise I found that someone had posted the entire film split into two parts. You can watch the first half below and follow it up with the second half here. It's fascinating to watch it and then think of all the classics ("The Burmese Harp", "Fires on the Plain", "Odd Obsession", "The Inugami Family", etc.) that would follow from this master filmmaker.