The world of seemingly forever lost movies and TV shows is fascinating.: for example, not so long ago 40 unpublished minutes of ‘Metropolis’ were found and ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’ remained in a psychiatric hospital until it was found in 1981. There are great masterpieces lost forever and others that we believed to be We could never see them appear, suddenly, recovered from nowhere: ‘Once upon a time’, one of the first animated films that was restored very recently, is worth a national example. Following this trend, Yesterday a film was screened in Los Angeles that no one believed could ever be recovered: ‘The oath of the sword’.
Between Asia and America
Year 1914. A film about a couple in Asia who have to separate because he is going to America to study at Berkeley and Buscar la vida is released in theaters with very little success: the Asian-American public does not respond despite its tragic ending and ‘The oath of the sword’ is lost in the ether of history, having in itself the honor of being the first known film dedicated to this very specific type of audience. 109 years later, an associate professor of Asian American studies, Denise Khor, got the surprise of her life when she found it in the archives of the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York.
“This film and others like it were made by Japanese Americans during this early period in film history and never found an audience. I love the idea that this film is finally finding it in this time, 2023,” says Khor. The film’s premiere took place in a small 277-seat theater with the hope of doing a little tour of the world. It may not be the best movie ever, but hardly anyone has seen it. Just for the discovery it’s worth it, right? It is impossible not to be curious.
In those days of silent cinema, Asian directors did not have the same distribution channels in the United States as their natives, and it was common for their films, all quite similar in theme and intentions, to they will end up getting lost. The version of ‘The oath of the sword’ that has been restored is not the original, but a backup that was made in 1980 and was missing title and credits: everything else is miraculously perfect. Who knows. The same thing one day a copy of ‘The day the clown cried’ is found in a basement and we can solve one of the strangest puzzles in the history of the seventh art. Cross our fingers.
In Espinof | Silent Film: ‘Greed’ by Erich von Stroheim