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The Dragon Painter

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Mar 18, 2008)
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$19.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 15 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This gem of Asian-American cinema is restored by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department, with a new digital master with original tinting, and new ensemble score by Mark Izu. Many special features are included.


'THE DRAGON PAINTER was one of the first films to present a Japanese aesthetic to an American audience. The performances by Hayakawa and Tsuru Aoki are a revelation.' --Stephen Gong, Pacific Film Archive

'A silent classic!' --Seattle News Tribune

'A masterful blend of lyricism and entertainment!' --Salt Lake City Deseret News

Special Features

  • Special Features:
  • Restored by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department
  • New digital master featuring original tinting
  • New ensemble score by composer Mark Izu
  • Full-length Feature: Thomas Ince's "The Wrath of the Gods" (1914. 60 mins.)  
  • Comedy short "Screen Snapshots" (1921. 5 mins.)
  • Stills gallery  
  • "How to Build Your Own Volcano" featurette  
  • Mary McNeil Fenollosa's novel "The Dragon Painter"
  • "Hollywood's First Asian Cycle", an essay by film historian Brian Taves

Product Details

  • Actors: Sessue Hayakawa, Tsuru Aoki
  • Directors: William Worthington
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque
  • DVD Release Date: March 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 53 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0011VIOAU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,076 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Dragon Painter" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This "new to home video" print of "The Dragon Painter" was fully restored in 1998 by the George Eastman House from the only known existing print which was found in France. The restoration included replacing the French "title sections" with those in English (and they remain on the screen long enough for even slow readers to fully read them).

If the word " early silent film" scares you, don't pass this one by. It's unlike any you will see elsewhere. First off, it's only 58 minutes long and the time passes very quickly. Next, though it takes place in Japan, it's a Hollywood production with the then Japanese/American movie idols Sessue Hayakawa (known mostly for his role in the 1960s film "The Bridge over The River Kwai") and the beautiful Tsuru Aoki (as his love interest). Then there is the newly composed musical score by Mark Isu. Native Japanese instruments are seamlessly woven into an almost-jazz score with hints of humor that will make you smile at critical moments in the film. (This score would make a terrific Soundtrack CD on its own.)

As with other releases from Milestone Films, there are LOTS of bonuses added to this package, including an earlier Hayakawa film - 1914's "The Wrath of God", directed by Thomas Ince - and a short, 2-minute "Screen Snapshot" silent comedy short from 1921 with Hayakawa and Fatty Arbuckle (it's SILENT, with no musical score), and lots DVD-ROM material to play on your computer (none of which I've had the opportunity to view yet.)

Classic Film lovers will definitely want this new release, but I'll also recommend it to general movie lovers, who I think will be surprised and drawn into the fantasy story of an artist (the painter) who can only fully create his best work when he fears he may lose the inspiration which drives him to paint.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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After waiting several years for the release of this rare silent film, it was very rewarding to find that this DVD surpassed even my highest expectations, and this is not only due to the special nature of the film itself, but also the many `deluxe' bonus features. There are, in fact, two full-length films on this DVD, both starring Japanese-American actor Sessue Hayakawa, as well as in-depth material on both films, including an original screenplay for one of them. The information contained in this extra material helps to appreciate the value of "The Dragon Painter" because in an environment of general prejudice against Asians in the first decades of last century, Hayakawa managed to carve out an impressive acting career for himself in early Hollywood, producing many of his own films according to his own taste and style. It is due to this independence and self-expression that "The Dragon Painter" is such a beautiful and special film, like a traditional work of Japanese art in a visual and poetic sense, underscored by a perfectly-suited musical score with Japanese tunes and sounds, blended with some contemporary jazz-like styles for special effect. And since Sessue Hayakawa plays the role of a wild-eyed madman of the mountains who paints stunning landscape pictures, the whole film is like a tribute to Japanese artistry, style and culture.

But this is only the beginning of realizing what an outstanding talent Hayakawa must have been, because in the second feature film on this DVD he plays yet another challenging role in a much earlier, 1914 film called "The Wrath of the Gods", which was produced by one of Hollywood's filmmaking pioneers, Thomas Ince.
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It has taken a long time for THE DRAGON PAINTER to reach home DVD. Announced well over a year ago, it had to wait for Milestone Films to find a new distributor which they did in New Yorker Films. Now we can finally see this long unavailable title and see how beautiful it is. The slight story is a variation on the woman sacrifices self for man so that he can succeed chestnut. In this case Hayakawa plays a wild mountain artist who paints dragons while searching for a princess. Once he finds her he loses the ability to paint until she takes matters into her own hands. The "princess" is played by Tsuru Aoki who was Hayakawa's wife in real life and their affection for each other shows. It's also interesting to see Edward Peil playing another oriental role. The same year (1919) he was in D.W. Griffith's BROKEN BLOSSOMS as Evil Eye. The film was beautifully photographed and looks quite good in this George Eastman House restoration of a French print.

The real treasure here though is the even rarer WRATH OF THE GODS also from George Eastman House. A major American produced film featuring Asian actors (Hayakawa, Aoki and others) in 1914 seems incredibly enlightened when you think of all the "yellow peril" parts that were just a few years down the road. The story borrows elements from MADAME BUTTERFLY and BIRD OF PARADISE and features future director Frank Borzage (SEVENTH HEAVEN) in one of his early acting roles. WRATH was produced by Thomas Ince who was one of the major players in the movie industry's early days but is remembered today only for his mysterious death involving William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924 and for the studio he built which would later become Cecil B. DeMille's and then David O. Selznick's.
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The Dragon Painter
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