Silent Film Narrators
in Japan

Benshi: Silent Film Narrators in Japan is a growing digital archive that focuses on the history and culture of benshi performance from Japan. Benshi were live narrators who provided commentary and vocalized the dialogue in silent films during the early 20th century. The archive features a curated collection of historical and contemporary materials related to benshi performance and fan culture, including audio and video clips of benshi performances, virtual reality movie theaters of historical locations, and digitized collections of theater programs, benshi scripts, and fan ranking charts.

Benshi: Who are they?

The term “benshi” derives from the longer designation, katsudo shashin benshi, which parses literally in Japanese as “motion picture speaker.”

What is the Benshi Archive?

The benshi archive is growing corpus of digitized historical materials relating to benshi performance and fan culture.”

The Missions of the Benshi Archive

The benshi archive has five interrelated missions, each with its own distinctive technical challenges, requirements, and solutions.