Bell of Sayon

March 28, 2015
past event image
Film past event

Introduction by Darrell Davis, Visiting Professor, NYU Cinema Studies

The bell of the title was a 1941 gift to a mountain village in Taiwan by the Japanese colonial governor. It commemorated the fervent patriotic devotion (to Japan) of Sayun Hayun, a young woman who accidentally died while seeing off her Japanese teacher, who departed for the Chinese front in 1938. In yet another racial transfiguration, Shirley Yamaguchi (Ri Koran) takes the title role of the girl, who happens to be an aboriginal (the original inhabitants of the island, doubly colonized by first the Chinese and then the Japanese). The film—an adaptation of a hit propaganda song—was directed by Hiroshi Shimizu, a filmmaker known for his location-based realism and powerful direction of children. Shimizu deploys all these elements to the end of assimilating Taiwanese aboriginals and Chinese into Japanese imperial subjectivity.

1943, 75 min., 16 mm, b&w, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Hiroshi Shimizu. With Shirley Yamaguchi (as Ri Koran), Yoshiaki Konoe, Kenji Oyama.

Print courtesy of National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

$12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors & students
SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase tickets for at least 3 different films and receive $2 off each ticket when purchased together! Special offer available only Japan Society Box Office or by telephone at (212) 715-1258. Offer not available online.

Part of the 2015 Globus Film Series The Most Beautiful: The War Films of Shirley Yamaguchi & Setsuko Hara.

Stories from the War
Marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, Japan Society presents the Society-wide series Stories from the War. Encompassing theater performances, film screenings, lectures, panels and educational opportunities for young people, programming from January to August explores history and considers challenging issues that the U.S. and Japan faced surrounding WWII through a contemporary lens.

Stories from the War is supported by a generous grant from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission.
  • Saturday, March 28, 2015
  • 4:30 pm