Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Japanese Era Film of Taipei

Enjoy: 9 min Japanese era film of Taipei. Deepest thanks to the reader who sent me this!
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What's with all those girls in the first half of the film? Feminization of the colony?

Jason said...

Outstanding. I love how it even manages to make Xindian a place I'd like to visit.

Jonathan Benda said...

You can get the whole video (and a couple more) on a DVD entitled 片格轉動的台灣顯影-國立臺灣歷史博物館修復館藏日治時期紀錄影片成果. Here's one place where you can buy it.

Waltzin' Jaloma said...

Aw... So quaint. So forward-looking also.

A date included in a subtitle at the end indicates that this film was produced later than 1933. It had probably been shot as an advert for the governor-sponsored campaign to promote Taiwan to the Japanese elites. The same models are shown sashaying in different locations around Taihoku.

But, with unrest in China constantly front page, adventure-hungry Japanese elites looked rather toward Manchuria and Mongolia. Taiwan was sooo like home, so boringly provincial. We discussed this with one of “Frog in the Well” contributors in an earlier post of yours. On looking that landscaped city and well-paved, wide roads, Japanese tourists could have discovered with a tinge of envy that Taiwan residents had it a lot better than themselves in cramped naichi.

Notice also the French 'Musette" tune throughout the film. The producers and editors did their utmost to project an image of a Taiwan, not the south-eastern Asian backwater of the empire, but keeping apace with the latest cultural trends, at least those which would appeal to a discerning elite who had already sailed the French Line to Marseilles. I almost expected a local Charles Treinet to perform “Ah, douce Formose, doux pays de mon enfance.....” or “Y’a d’la joie.” Notice also the funny look of the tree trunk in front of the Taiwan Radio Broadcast Station at 3:43.

Tim Maddog said...

Good thing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) came over later and brought modernization to Taiwan! /snarkasm

Tim Maddog

John Scott said...

Wow... so there was a canal or river there in front of劍潭寺?? That's just 200 m from the美麗華 mall and cinema at NeiHu. I have seen a few old photos of that temple, but because there was a canal in the photos, I thought it could not be the same JianTan temple.

You may also recognize the shinto shrine that was opposite the boys' high school on NanHai Rd. Apparently, it was not completely demolished, but its appearance was throroughly sinicized and it became a kind of archive/library for Chinese literature.

Inside the botanical gardens, there's a view across the big lotus pond (which looks much the same now), looking at the back of the present-day Museum of History (also on NanHai Rd.).

Another very cool part is seeing the scenes of 芝山岩 (ZiShan mountain, near ZiShan MRT station), the temple on the mountain (惠濟宮) and the shinto shrine on the mountain. The shrine and the tori gates were removed and replaced with something ugly made of concrete, but the landscaping and the steps of the original Japanese shrine remain largely in original condition.

But Taiwan was hardly the backwater of the Japanese empire. By the 1920s, it had the most highly-developed infrastructure of any part of the empire outside of Japan proper. There was injustice, exploitation, and unequal access to services, resources and education, to be sure. But there were also hospitals, universities, transportation, municipal water supply, etc.

skiingkow said...

Haha. Outstanding film!

Even with the traffic driving on the left hand side of the road, I don't think I would have had the courage to drive back then, either.

Some things never change. Haha.

Anonymous said...

Gee Wow! What serenity and beauty and cleanliness!

If only the 'Comfort Women' could have enjoyed such a perfect world!


Robert Scott Kelly said...

Wonderful. Bitan, where I now live, has hardly changed. I can recognize the same rocks and landscape today.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, Taihoku of the 1930's was the most advanced place in Asia outside of Japan proper. Taihoku makes contemporary places like Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanking, etc. seem like primitive backwaters. Those big multinationals like HSBC and AIG that had their world headquaters in maninland China in the 1930s must have been really dumb to not have set up shop in Taihoku because it was so much more modern and advanced.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and modern but looks too insanely 'sanitized'.

Unit 731 must be involved in the filming.


Dixteel said...

BW films make things look cleaner. But yea, I am surprised how modern and comfortable looking Taipei looks back then.

Readin said...

"But yea, I am surprised how modern and comfortable looking Taipei looks back then."

The film was made for a purpose. The presence young ladies indicate that the purpose including making Taiwan look good. If you a cooperative non-democratic government you can do a lot.

You can clear train stations while you film a train isn't crowded at all. You can put all the government owned cars in one place and make it look like having a street with 10 cars is normal. You can clean all the litter and animal poop off the streets before filming. If there is only one street in the city with telephone poles you can film that one street instead of the hundreds that don't. You can pick a time of day when the streets are less crowded (or even clear the streets entirely). You can get rid of the beggars and crippled. etc. etc.

Unfortunately you can't simply look at this as "typical Taiwan" but instead have to consider that it may be "what a particular spot in Taiwan could look like after being cleaned up and having any props the government could provide added".

Anonymous said...

There's a collection of old Taiwan movies on the taipics.com site if anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

I cried seing the Taihoku embraced by the greatness of the Japanese Empire. If only we won the war then even China, Sakhalin and Hawaii could have been as modern, beautiful and crime-free as Taihoku and all thankful for being part of Great Japan!


Dixteel said...

Of course, Readin. Places always look much better in film, especially if the film makers' intention is for promotional purpose. Plus you won't smell those city "aroma" or filled your nostrils with black coal emitted from those trains and factory chimneys as shown in the film. But I have already taken those into considerations. Imagine what you see in the film is 40% worse, it still looks quite impressive for that period of time.

As for crowded train station...I am not sure if that was possible. The population of Taiwan back then was much smaller.

Reiko said...

Such peaceful good old days. I wish Japan continued ruling Taiwan then Taiwan would be a paradise as its name originated "Formosa", "What a beautiful island".