JC Mol CI met gradient
JC Mol CI met gradient

J.C. Mol: How a Dutch film master was forced to make Japanese propaganda

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Mol met microscoop

J.C. Mol

His name was Jan Cornelis Mol. His passion for filming and capturing the moments human eyes can not see, took him all around the world.

Still: J.C. Mol, Filmer, 22-05-1961, AVRO. Source: Collection Sound and VisionGeluid
Fruit grower

Jan Cornelis Mol was the son of a fruit grower. He was born in 1891 in Venhuizen.

At the age of 19, he took over the family business and successfully became the director of a fruit auction.

Video: Aalsmeer, het bloemencentrum van Europa, 1931, Multifilm. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Microcinematography

Beside his job as a fruit grower, he had a strong passion for photography and films. Trying to capture the beautiful moments of nature and science, he skilled himself in microcinematography. His knowledge was very special. He published numerous articles about how to operate a photo and film camera.

Photo: studio Multifilm Haarlem. maker unknown, publication date unknown. Source: Collection EYE
Fotografisch zakboek

Photographic pocket book

This 'Fotografisch zakboek' is one of his publications.

Photo: cover 'Fotografisch zakboek', 1935. Source: boekwinkeltjes.nl
Multifilm Fabriek

In 1927, he set up a film production company called Multifilm in Haarlem. He equipped his studio with highly advanced devices and expanded his film techniques from scientific to medical. He also started to co-operate with universities.

Photo: studio Multifilm Haarlem, author unknown, publication date unknown. Source: Collection Eye
Educator

Not only did Mol develop new techniques, he also had a strong urge to share his knowledge with others.

In this educational film Mol explains the film process.

Video: Hoe de geluidsfilm tot stand komt, 1936, Multifilm. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Crystallization

In this film he shows the process of crystallization.

Filming this through a microscope opens up hidden worlds.

Video: Het wonder der bloemen,1930, Multifilm, source: Collection Sound and Vision
Sense of Humor

Mol also used his skills to express his sense of humor...

... like making this boy eating a banana in reverse.

Video: Het wonder der bloemen,1930, Multifilm, Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Pioneering in colour

In the 1930's, Multifilm was the only production company in the Netherlands that could film in colour.

The company also gained a high reputation abroad.

Mol's films traveled from the small city of Haarlem to the metropolis of Paris and surprised many people.

Video: Haarlem, 1925, Orion Profiliti. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Mol en zijn vrouw vertrekken naar Nederlands-Indië

New challenge, new country

In 1939 Mol got a new challenge: the Dutch shipping company Rotterdamsche Lloyd assigned him to make a colour film in the colony Dutch East Indies. He left the Netherlands and went to the new country, together with his wife.

Top: J.C.Mol and his wife leaving the Netherlands, uit: De Tijd, 03-06-1939. Source: Delpher
Bottom: still from Vertrek M.S. Sibajak, 1935, maker unknown. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Multifilm Batavia

In Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies, Mol opened the production company Multifilm Batavia.

Multifilm Batavia produced the national news programs, like this report on Queen's day in 1941.

In the meantime Germany had invaded and occupied the Netherlands and Mol decided to stay in the Dutch East Indies.

Video: Koninginnedag 1941 Batavia, 31-08-1941, Multifilm Batavia. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Japanese occupation

Conditions got even worse. In March 1942 Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies.

Mol was imprisoned in a so called 'Jappenkamp', an internment camp in which the Japanese detained the Dutch inhabitants of the colony.

Video: Aankomst van eerste minister Tojo op Java, 1943, Nippon Eiga Sha. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Portret

Working for the occupier

The Japanese confiscated Multifilm Batavia and changed it into the Japanese national film production company Nippon Eiga Sha. The Japanese film crew was very impressed by Mol's techniques. Film producer Tokichi Ishimoto, head of the crew, persuaded Mol to work for Nippon Eiga Sha.

Photo: Tokichi Ishimoto, 1936, Museum of Kyoto. Source: Women Film Pioneer Project.
Japanse films

Propaganda films

Nippon Eiga Sha produced the propaganda news series for the Indonesian locals. Apart from the news from the battlefield, there were also educational films to teach people the Japanese language and to improve their standard of living.

Top: still Dai Toa News nr. 56, 1942, Nippon Eiga Sha. Source: Collection Sound and Vision.
Bottom: still Djwawa Baharoe (6), 1943, Djawa Eiga Kosha. Source: Collection Sound and Vision.
Mol's influence

In this film the Japanese animator Saseo Ono is drawing a mosquito with both hands.

This film was made to explain how to prevent malaria...

...which was a fatal disease at that time and in some cases it still is.

The crew combined Ono’s special technique with the microscope technique.

Video: Pembasmian Malaria, 1940’s, Nippon Eiga Sha. Source: Collection Sound and Vision.
The joy of working hard

This is a typical Japanese propaganda movie. The voice over says:

"As a gift to the Japanese soldiers, locals are producing sake.

We can see now they know the joy of working hard.”

Video: Djawa Hodo no.14, Berita film di Djawa, 1943, Nippon Eiga Sha. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
After the war

In August 1945 Japan was defeated and the occupation of the Dutch East Indies ended.

Mol could come back to work at Multifilm Batavia again, which from then on was called Multifilm-Batavia Government Company.

Mol became the director.

Photo: J.C. Mol in the Dutch East Indies, date unknown, Multifilm. Source: Ariedejong.eu
Wordende wereld

Under Mol’s supervision, the company produced 'Wordende wereld'.

This weekly newsreel was part of the Dutch propaganda strategy during the Indonesian struggle for independence.

From 1947 to the transfer of souvereignty to Indonesia in 1949 more than 130 episodes appeared.

Video: Wordende Wereld nr. 110, 1948, Multifilm Batavia. Source: Collection Sound and Vision
Mol's techniques travel to Japan

The Japanese film makers returned back home, equipped with the skills they learned from Mol.

They started producing their own scientific films, like this one from 1948 called 'Living Bread'.

Video: Living Bread, 1948, Yonesaku Kobayashi, Nippon Eiga Shinsha. Source: YouTube, NPO Science Film Museum

In 1949 Mol returned to the Netherlands and he gradually withdrew from his company. He died in 1954 at the age of nearly 63, but the special techniques he used are still alive today and have contributed to the development of scientific film all over the world.

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