This film is part of Free
Stencil colour and exotic décor add dazzle to a magic show conducted by white performers in yellowface.
Three Westerners, two men and a woman, dress up as Asians to perform a series of magic tricks. Their gaudy ‘Japanese’ costumes and yellowface make-up seem more a device to evoke a sense of exoticism than an accurate representation of the oriental culture. The male assistant wears a wig with a braided queue; a Manchu-derived hairstyle more closely associated with Qing-dynasty China than with Japan. The film employs editing and superimposition for its special effects.
The film is produced by Pathé and is credited to Gaston Velle . After working for the Lumière brothers, Velle was hired by Pathé Frères to make a number of 'trick' films, a popular staple of early cinema. Like many such films, Japonaiserie features a magician; Velle himself had been a stage illusionist, as was his father. (Kosuke Fujiki)