Yakov PROTAZANOV
Яков ПРОТАЗАНОВ
Yakov PROTAZANOV
Russia, 1914, 18mn 
fiction
Luchshe smert, chem beschestie
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Лучше смерть, чем бесчестье

 

 Better Death than Dishonour

 L'Honneur d'une Japonaise

 
Directed by : Yakov PROTAZANOV (Яков ПРОТАЗАНОВ)
Writing credits : Sergey GARIN (Сергей ГАРИН)
Based on the play “Ki-Musume” (The Maiden) by Ikuta Kizan
Cinematography : Aleksandr LEVITSKY (Александр ЛЕВИТСКИЙ)
Production design : Cheslav SABINSKY (Чеслав САБИНСКИЙ)
Other persons :
Cast : Ōta HISA (Madame HANAKO) ...Akiki
Companies : Pathé
 

Plot synopsis
comme anglais
 

Le prince Sataké charge sa servante Akiki de porter à son frère, le prince Tessan, un lot de précieuses assiettes.En chemin, la servante est obsédée par les assiduités de Tchouta, domestique du prince Tessan. Par bonheur, son fiancé arrive à temps pour mettre fin aux insolences de l’importun. Mais Tchouta est vindicatif. Pour se venger d’Akiki, il lui subtilise adroitement deux des assiettes qu’elle a mission de porter. Arrivée auprès du prince, Akiki s’aperçoit avec stupeur de la disparition des deux porcelaines. Accusée de vol par le prince Tessan, elle ne parvient pas à le persuader de sa bonne foi. Elle pense que la mort seule peut sauver son honneur, et la pauvre Akiki, après avoir écrit à son fiancé une lettre où elle proteste de son innocence, se tranche la carotide. Samney, averti par un marchand témoin du vol de Tchouta, arrive trop tard pour sauver sa fiancée, qui meurt dans ses bras.

Принц Сатаке поручает своей горничной Акики отнести его брату, принцу Тессану, набор драгоценных тарелок. По пути горничную одолевает своим усердием Чута, слуга принца Тессана. К счастью, ее жених прибывает вовремя, чтобы положить конец назойливой наглости. Но Чута мстителен. В отместку Акики он ловко крадет две тарелки, которые ей поручено нести. По приходу к принцу, Акики с ужасом обнаруживает исчезновениe двух фарфоровых изделий. Обвиненная принцем Тессаном в краже, она не может убедить его в своей добросовестности. Она думает, что только смерть может спасти ее честь, и бедняжка Акики, написав своему жениху письмо заверяя его в своей невиновности, перерезает себе горло. Самни, которого предупредил торговец, свидетель кражи Чуты, прибывает слишком поздно, чтобы спасти свою невесту, которая умирает у него на руках.
 

commentaries
 
These two films ["The Love of a Japanese Woman" and "Better Death than Dishonour"] are the sole surviving moving pictures of the dancer and actress Ohta Hisa, known as Hanako (1868-1945); a photographic record of her performances also exists. Public infatuation with the diminutive Japanese artist (some reports describe her as 4 ft. 6) predates these films: “She is like a kitten, whose every movement is a success,” enthused the New York Times (27.10.1907). Hanako (“Little Flower”) was first spotted by the dancer and entrepreneur Loïe Fuller, who provided her with a repertoire of “suicide” pieces. American and European newspapers, especially the French ones, describe her hara-kiri enactments when she was performing in La Martyre at the Théâtre Moderne in Paris, also noting her facial expressivity when conveying love and jealousy. Hanako’s style first fascinated France in 1906, around the time that Europe was discovering kabuki theatre (Rodin, who met her that year in Marseille, made her one of his models; she posed for over 50 of his works), and she returned to France during a tour in the 1910s. Her friendship with the wife of Albert Carré, director of the Opéra-Comique and cousin of Michel Carré, the film director at SCAGL, led to several performances of Madame Butterfly, which may have inspired the screen adaptation of La Petite geisha. In Moscow in 1912-1913, her sophisticated acting earned praise from Nikolai Evreinov and Vsevolod Meyerhold, and she performed before the students of the Art Theater. The newly christened Le Film Russe, registered in 1910, marked the transformation of the Moscow branch of Pathé into a local production company with its own studio. This initiative helped launch the careers of several young directors; Peter Bagrov and Anna Kovalova have recently posited that these two films with Hanako were probably directed by Yakov Protazanov rather than Kai Hansen. These restorations were carried out in 2021 by the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé and the Cinémathèque française, based on the original Pathé negatives. Editing and intertitles were reconstructed from the original scenarios and information on the prints. The 4K digital transfer was done by L’Immagine Ritrovata, Paris-Bologna.
– Stéphanie Salmon, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé

Selected in the following festivals :
- Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Pordenone (Italy), 2021

Images
 

Hisa Ōta, presumably at the Ronacher in Vienna, 1908-04-04