The Water Magician | Chicago Reader

The Water Magician

Also known as White Threads of the Waterfall, this 1933 film by the sublime Kenji Mizoguchi is one of his two silent features to have survived intact. The plot concerns a female entertainer, whose act involves juggling jets of water, and her romantic relationship with a shy young man; years later the man has become a judge and presides over her trial for murder. A major reason why sound films came later to Japan than almost everywhere else was the figure of the benshi—the “explainer” who acted out all the parts and added commentary of his own, and whose popularity was such that audiences often went to hear and see their favorite benshi rather than the film stars. 110 min.

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