Atlas Printing Co, Ca. 1917. Unrecorded illustrated handbill for very early American movie on China, subtitled "the most interesting and educational photoplay ever produced in 8 Big Reels".
This was not the "travel short" of the period, which ran alongside a feature film. This is an 8 reel documentary complete with a Lecturer explaining the movie. This film is a shorter version of Benjamin Brodsky's 'Trip Through China', which was a 10 reel film which was released in the US in March of 1917. The handbill advertises the same footage of the 1914 typhoon: "it depicts a tremendous typhoon that wiped out the lives of nearly a million Chinese and picked up great steamers from the harbor of Shanghai and deposited them in a park, three blocks inshore".
Brodsky's movie was considered unparalleled; it was a new visual record of “every conceivable feature of Chinese life—her customs, fashions, and beliefs. It is at once geographical, historical and scenic, hence very interesting,” according to Motion Picture News. An 18 minute fragment of this Brodsky documentary is held in the New Zealand Film Archive.
The text of the handbill touts the exotic aspect of the country and never before seen footage of the interiors of buildings in the Forbidden City: "The interior of the Purple Forbidden City, the most sacred and mysterious spot in China is but one of the thousands of wonderful and awe inspiring scenes ... "
Places and wonders named here include: "the Hand Carved Marble Steps in the Forbidden Gardens, Gigantic Bronze Watchdog, The Ming Tombs, Forts along the Great Wall of China, Sacred Well of Wu Sih, Cormorant Fishing, Chinese Human Power Boats, The Temple of Heaven built 4,000 years ago, the Throne Room in the Imperial Palace, Summer Palace, South Lake, Marble Bridge, Hongkong, Aberdeen, Hanchow, Kowloon, Macao, Canton, Shanghai, Soochow, Wusih, Nankin, Tientsin, Pekin, all shown in this film wonder of the world."
The folded handbill is illustrated with printed b&w photographic illustrations including A Pagoda, Pumping Water on the Rice Fields, Grinding the Rice, and Chinese Prisoner (a man locked into stocks). 11 x 8", folds to 5 1/2 x 8". Period folds flattened, short splits at foredge, slightly dusty. Period annotation in pencil at front wrapper reads, "1915 - Milwaukee". Not found in WorldCat. Good + condition. Item #24812