Setsuko Hara caught the eye of visiting Nazi film director Arnold Fanck the year after her 1936 debut, while she was performing for Mansaku Itami’s Kochiyama Soshun. The two directors cast her for the lead in their German-Japanese co-production of The New Earth. The new earth in question is Manchuria, which Japan had seized in 1931 and was aggressively colonizing at the time of production. For the Nazis’ part, the film was designed to uplift the image of the non-white Japanese on the eve of the 1936 Anti-Comintern Pact that made the two countries allies (one of the German diplomats working on the agreement traveled undercover with the film crew). A Japanese man returns from Europe and filled with admiration for European culture…and women, as he rejects marriage with Setsuko Hara. Her father, played by Sessue Hayakawa, brings him around to a re-appreciation of both Hara and Japanese culture. The two marry and move to Manchuria as settlers. Itami and Fanck did not see eye to eye, releasing their own individual edits of the film; Fanck’s was released under the title Die Tochter des Samurai and Hara attended the German premiere with an admiring Adolph Hitler. Japan Society is showing the Itami version. This film catapulted Hara to instant movie stardom and she became a mainstay of the Japanese war film.
1937, 114 min., 35mm, b&w, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Arnold Fanck and Mansaku Itami. With Setsuko Hara, Isamu Kosugi, Ruth Eweler, Sessue Hayakawa.
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.
- March 24, 2015
- 7:00 pm