The following are literature reviews on select sources that were referenced in the making of this site. These reviews provide a brief summary of the main points in the original articles. After reading the summaries, the reader is encouraged to seek out the full text of these articles for their own scholarly analysis and enjoyment.
“Second and Third Thoughts about the Japanese Film” by Joseph L. Anderson
This article summarizes certain aspects of the Japanese film industry and the writer’s opinion on the topic. Anderson describes the benshi narrator and gives a brief overview of the history of these entertainers. He then discusses the development of television and how this spelt the end of the benshi performer. Source Review
“Benshi and the Introduction of Motion Pictures to Japan” by Jeffrey A. Dym
This article is a comprehensive summary of the Japanese film industry, starting from the importation of early-day cameras (ex: Kinetoscope and Vitascope) to the rise and fall of the benshi institution. Source Review
“Benshi as Stars: The Irony of the Popularity and Respectability of Voice Performers in Japanese Cinema” by Hideaki Fujiki
An analytical piece that debates the paradoxical existence of the benshi and their popularity. Source Review
"The Subject of the Text: Benshi, Authors, and Industry" by Aaron Gerow
This is a chapter from Gerow’s book, Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship. In this chapter, Gerow outlines many facets of the benshi and the Japanese film industry. He lays out the criticism, disputes, and debates that surrounded the benshi entertainers. Source Review
"Voices of the Silents" by Abé Mark Nornes
In this chapter from his book, Cinema Babel: Translating Global Cinema, Nornes focuses heavily on the translation of intertitles- intertitles being photographed dialogue cards that are placed in the midst of a film. Nornes stresses the importance of intertitles, calling them “untapped riches” that express the mood of a film in a way that action cannot. Intertitles are what define a film. Source Review
“Narrating the Detective: Nansensu, Silent Film Benshi Performances and Tokugawa Musei’s Absurdist Detective Fiction” by Kyoko Omori
A critical analysis of the importance of nansensu (nonsense) in Japan. Omori centers her essay around the setsumei of the benshi Tokugawa Musei’s detective fiction story, “The Murder Case of Obetai Buruburu.” Source Review
“Mediators of Modernity: “Photo-interpreters” in Japanese Silent Cinema” by Isolde Standish
Standish’s article is divided into two main parts. The first part focuses on the benshi as being “mediators of modernity through their interpretation of foreign films for Japanese audiences.” The second part of her article explores the role of the benshi within the domestically produced melodramatic genres and how the inclusion of the benshi “as a central element of the film experience impacted the development of cinematic conventions in these [melodramatic] genres.” Source Review
Anderson, Joseph L., and Donald Richie. "Part One: Background." The Japanese Film: Art and Industry. Expanded ed. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1982. 21-71. Print.
Anderson, Joseph L. "Second and Third Thoughts About the Japanese Film." The Japanese Film: Art and Industry. Joseph L. Anderson and Donald Richie. Expanded ed. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1982. 439-56. Print.
Bernardi, Joanne. Writing in Light: The Silent Scenario and the Japanese Pure Film Movement. Detroit, MI: Wayne State UP, 2001. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.
Burch, Noël. "To the Distant Observer: Towards a Theory of Japanese Film." October 1.(n.d.): JSTOR SRU gateway. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.
Kinoshita, Chika. "The Benshi Track: Mizoguchi Kenji's The Downfall of Osen and the Sound Transition." Cinema Journal 50.3 (n.d.): 1-25. Project MUSE. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.
Dym, Jeffrey A. "Benshi and the Introduction of Motion Pictures to Japan." Monumenta Nipponica 55.4 (Winter 2000): 509-36. JSTOR. Web. 20 June 2011.
Dym, Jeffrey A. Benshi, Japanese Silent Film Narrators, and Their Forgotten Narrative Art of Setsumei: a History of Japanese Silent Film Narration. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2003. Print.
Fujiki, Hideaki. "Benshi as Stars: The Irony of the Popularity and Respectability of Voice Performers in Japanese Cinema." Cinema Journal 42.2 (Winter 2006): 68-84. Project MUSE. Web. 20 June 2011.
Gerow, Aaron. “The Subject of the Text: Benshi, Authors, and Industry.” Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010. 133-173. Print.
Gerow, Aaron. "The Word before the Image: Criticism, the Screenplay, and the Regulation of Meaning in Prewar Japanese Film Culture." Word and Image in Japanese Cinema. 3-35. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 2001. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.
Hovet, Ted. "The Teacher as Exhibitor: Pedagogical Lessons from Early Film Exhibition." Pedagogy 6.2 (n.d.): 327-335. Project MUSE. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.
Komatsu, Hiroshi. "The Foundation of Modernism: Japanese Cinema in the Year 1927." Film History 17.2/3 (2005): 363-375. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.
Komatsu, Hiroshi, and Charles Musser. "Benshi Search." Wide Angle 9.2 (1987): 72-90. Print.
Matsuda Film Productions. Matsuda Film Productions. MFP, 1995. Web. 30 June 2011.
Nornes, Abe Mark. "Voices of the Silents." Cinema Babel: Translating Global Cinema. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2007. 89-122. Print.
Nornes, Mark Howard., Mamoru Makino, and Aaron Gerow. In Praise of Film Studies: Essays in Honor of Makino Mamoru. Ed. Aaron Gerow and Abe Mark Nornes. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford, 2001. Print.
Omori, Kyoko. "Narrating the Detective: Nansensu, Silent Film Benshi Performances and Tokugawa Musei's Absurdist Detective Fiction." Japan Forum 21.1 (March 2009): 75-93. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 June 2011.
Richie, Donald. A Hundred Years of Japanese Film: a Concise History, with a Selective Guide to Videos and DVDs. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2001. Print.
Russell, Catherine. "Naruse Mikio's Silent Films: Gender and the Discourse of Everyday Life in Interwar Japan." Camera Obscura 60 (n.d.): 56-89. WilsonWeb: Art Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.
Standish, Isolde. "Mediators of Modernity: ‘Photo-interpreters’ in Japanese Silent Cinema." Oral Tradition 20.1 (n.d.): 93-110. Project MUSE. EBSCO. Web. 30 June 2011.