Michael Rogge (born 27 May 1929) is a Dutch photographer, videographer and filmmaker, best known for his depictions of post-WW2 life in the Far East, in particular, Hong Kong, Japan and South East Asia. He is regarded as one of the oldest living content contributors to YouTube.

Personal and Professional Life[edit | edit source]

Early Life and Education[edit | edit source]

Michael Rogge was raised in Amsterdam, born to Thea Rogge and her husband IJsbrand Rogge (senior), a Dutch explorer based in Dutch Indonesia.[1] His father, who was born in Indonesia in 1875 and moved to Java in 1991, was into mining of oil, gold and diamonds and also had strong interests in photography.[2]

He was christened IJsbrand Cornelius Rogge (IJ is a Dutch ligature and pronounced together as a vowel), but later adopted the alias Michael, for the benefit of working with non-Dutchmen.[1][3] Michael recalled viewing his father's home movie projector at the age of two [3] and in 1939, at the age of 10, he inherited his father's projector. Eventually, he got access to a Kodak Box camera in 1942 and a Kine Exakta camera in in 1947. He was able to purchase a used 9.5mm movie camera using his pocket money.[2][3]

He studied at the H.B.S. in Deventer and completed his education in 1948.[4] In 1949, when he was 20 years old, he left the Netherlands to work in the Far East.[3]

Hong Kong[edit | edit source]

In 1949, Michael Rogge moved to Hong Kong to work at the Nederlandsch-Indische Handelsbank (that later became Nationale Handelsbank in 1950 and Rotterdamsche Bank in 1960).[3] [2] During his journey to Hong Kong and almost all of his subsequent journeys to various countries and places that he visited, whether for professional reasons or personal interests, he had a regular companion in his luggage: his movie camera. [3]

Michael Rogge had stated that he considered his years spent in Hong Kong as the best time of his life. [3] As he lived and travelled there, he became fascinated with the Eastern philosophy [3], an interest that he retained even to his old age and prompted him to write several articles on various aspects of Eastern philosophy.[5][3]

Japan[edit | edit source]

After spending six years in Hong Kong[6], he moved to Japan in 1955, where he lived until 1960 and made several photographs and videos on life in Japan. [7][6]

In Japan, he joined hands with his bank colleague Hans Brinckmann who were both charmed by the life and culture of Japan and travel the length and breadth of the country during their weekends.[8][2] During those trips, they photographed the lifestyles of the ordinary Japanese people, their political struggle [9], as well as their cultural heritage including their arts and crafts, religious ceremonies, arts and crafts and scenic landscapes.[8][10]

Return to Europe[edit | edit source]

In 1961, he returned to Hong Kong to spend a month there and made a documentary on Hong Kong.[11] Eventually, he returned to Amsterdam, Netherlands where he has been living since then.[12]

Films[edit | edit source]

Rogge shot and preserved historical films of colonial Hong Kong, Singapore,[13] Saigon,[14] Lima, Peru[15][16] and Ireland,[17][18] among various other worldwide locations ranging from United States to Europe to the Indian sub-continent.[19] He has posted and shared these films online, providing a historical record of the locations.[3]

The unique characteristic of his films is that they captured how real life happened on the streets and among ordinary people, and that they were created during a time when only official events used to get filmed. [20] Such realistic portrayal of life in his self-funded films differentiates them from other post-WW2 era films which were mostly funded by the respective governments or scripted for specific purposes.[21] This makes his videos a treasure trove for students of history, sociology or anthropology. [19]

Rogge's 1953 short film The Turn of the Tide has been called the first independent short film made in Hong Kong.[11][21] It narrates the story of the relationship between a young fisherman boy based in Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter and his terminally ill friend.[22] As a well-paced experimental short drama featuring realistic cinematography, it demonstrated Rogge's talents in dramatic film-making.[11]

Around 1959-1960, Michael Rogge and Hans Brinckmann had made a 25-minute documentary titled Washo! on how life changed in the post-war Japan.[10][9] Within an year, this documentary was shown on television and purchased by two Museums.[10] In 2005, excerpts from Washo! (including narration) were reproduced in a documentary telecast by the Japanese national TV broadcaster NHK. [10]

In 1961 a Dutch televison station commissioned Rogge to make the documentary film Three Million Souls of Hong Kong, which he completed in 1962.[11][6]

The Hong Kong film archive has called the 200 minutes of film that Rogge shot in Hong Kong between 1949 and 1954 "an extremely valuable artifact for Hong Kong".[23]

Although some of his early works were originally silent films, many were edited with voice over commentaries, music and sound effects.[24]

Filmography[edit | edit source]

A partial filmography, consisting of a subset of Michael Rogge's important short films and documentaries, is listed below.

Title Year Color Language Duration Notes Refs
Washo! 1959 25 min Documentary [10][9]
Sunrise 1953 Color Silent 8 min [25][23]
Rain 1952 3.5 min [23]
Typhoon 1.5 min [23]
Introducing Hong Kong 1950 23.5 min [23]
Everyday Life of 1950s 10 min [23]
Island Scenery 1.5 min [23]
Close of a Day 1 min [23]
Coronation Festivities 1953 16 min [23]
Walking Down to Central 1949 4.5 min [11]
Apartment in Hong Kong 1953 9.5 min [11]
Three Million Souls of Hong Kong 1962 42 min [11]
Turn of the Tide 1953 20 min Independent Short Drama [11][22]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Collections[edit | edit source]

Hong Kong Film Archives had produced collections of Michael Rogge's works such as:

  • In Search of Michael Rogge's Hong Kong Memories [24][26]
  • Transcending Space and Time – Early Cinematic Experience of Hong Kong[27]

Seminars and Exhibitions[edit | edit source]

Showa Japan seen through Dutch eyes (Tokyo, Japan, 2008)[edit | edit source]

A month-long exhibition Showa Japan seen through Dutch eyes was held in Tokyo at Fujifilm Square from August 29 to September 30, 2008.[8][10] This included works from Michael Rogge and Hans Brinckmann[10], his former colleague and a Dutch writer, who were working for the same bank branch and living in Japan during the 1955-1960 period [8]This exhibition had attracted 49,000 people. [2] This included Washo!, a documentary about "the old and the new Japan", that narrated the unresolved hostility and conflicts in post-WW2 Japanese society, in the background of fierce opposition to the Japan-US Security Treaty.[9][10] It portrayed how labor relations had eroded in Japan during that period, which led to political agitations causing violent demonstrations on the streets of Tokyo.[9][10]

Michael Rogge and his Hong Kong of the 1950s (Hong Kong, 2014)[edit | edit source]

A special seminar titled Michael Rogge and his Hong Kong of the 1950s was held in Hong Kong during 2014. [27] This included an exhibition titled "Michael Rogge Retrospective" and organized into two separate sessions titled Retrospective (1)[23] and Retrospective (2)[11]. Both screenings were enriched with music composed by Maud Nelissen and performed live. [23]

  • Retrospective (1): This collection includes two of Michael Rogge's prize-winning works, Sunrise and Rain, as well as Coronation Festivities of 1953 and others. It had a total duration of 64 minutes.[23]
  • Retrospective (2): This collection has a total duration of 64 minutes.[11]

Recognition, Awards and Mentions[edit | edit source]

Michael Rogge's short films Rain (1952) and Sunrise (1953) had won awards at cinema club contests of that era. [24]

The German newspaper, Der Spiegel, reported in 2013 that Michael Rogge is among the oldest and most dedicated YouTube users, and has attracted several millions of views. [3]

Photographic Equipment Collection[edit | edit source]

Helped by his long exposure to photography and cinematography right from his childhood, Michael Rogge has maintained a rich collection of antique equipment for cinematography and photography. His collection includes a variety of cameras, projectors as well as films or discs of various sizes and shapes, including from the Victorian Cinema period. [28] He also maintains a detailed web document titled One Hundred Years of Film Sizes that describes various types of film sizes [28] with their specifications and illustrations and is intended to help collectors and enthusiasts worldwide. This has been referenced in the literature on photography and cinematography.[29][30][31][32]

Views on Spirituality and Psychology[edit | edit source]

Michael Rogge had long experience and exposure to Eastern Philosophy, particularly on Buddhism, Zen and Javanese mystical movements such as Subud. [33] He has presented special views on spiritual movements and their psychology.[34] Regarding Javanese traditions, he has stated that "The Javanese mystical tradition is known for its syncretism. In the course of its history it absorbed all the religious traditions that reached Java and gave it its own interpretation.". [35][5] According to a paper presented by him at Sydney Subud World Congress in 1989, Michael Rogge claims to have "a background of more than 35 years of Subud practice, having been opened by Husein Rofé in 1954 in Hong Kong". [36][37]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Rogge, Michael. "AMSTERDAM 1929 - 1936, My early years in pictures". Retrieved 3 November 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Bateman, Nadine (15 March 2009). "Michael Rogge". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 November 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Klatt, Oliver (3 April 2013). "Historischer Filmschatz: Herr Rogges YouTube-Zeitmaschine". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Life in Hong Kong in pictures and video clips 1948 - 50". wichm.home.xs4all.nl. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Javanese Mysticism - Sumarah - Indonesia - Kebatinan - Spirituality". wichm.home.xs4all.nl. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "香港記憶 - Hong Kong Memory - Hong Kong through Michael Rogge's Lens". 香港記憶 - Hong Kong Memory.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Le Japon en 1916, et autres films étonnants du Néerlandais Michael Rogge · Global Voices en Français". 31 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Showa Japan seen through Dutch eyes:Event Infomation|Fujifilm Square". fujifilmsquare.jp. 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 "Dutch banker turned writer finds a home and inspiration in Japan". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 Brinckmann, Hans (2011-05-07). "Chapter 7: Authority Challenged". Showa Japan: The Post-War Golden Age and Its Troubled Legacy. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 9781462900268.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 "Film Programmes Office: Michael Rogge Retrospective (2)". www.lcsd.gov.hk. Retrieved 2017-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "De Werelden van IJsbrand. Personen register". wichm.home.xs4all.nl. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "See if you can spot familiar places in this 1987 ride through Singapore". Mothership.sg.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Thông, Báo Giao. "Ngắm Sài Gòn và Huế năm 1945 qua đoạn phim quý hiếm".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. EC, Redacción (15 October 2015). "[Video] ¿Cómo era Lima a finales de la década del 40?".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Peru.com, Redacción. "Noticias de Michael Rogge". Perú.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "WATCH: Amazing amateur video shows what Dublin was like in 1960 - Independent.ie". Independent.ie.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Bradley, Dara (27 April 2017). "Reeling in the years! - Connacht Tribune".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "30 augustus 'eigen geschiedenis op YouTube' (Annemieke Zoutenbier)". Histnow (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Reportage: "Van hobby tot schatkamer"". www.telegraaf.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 "香港記憶 - Hong Kong Memory - Interview of Michael Rogge". 香港記憶 - Hong Kong Memory.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 "香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory - Film still of Turn of the Tide (1953)". 香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.00 23.01 23.02 23.03 23.04 23.05 23.06 23.07 23.08 23.09 23.10 23.11 "Film Programmes Office: Michael Rogge Retrospective (1)". www.lcsd.gov.hk. Retrieved 2017-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Fu, Winnie. ""In Search of Michael Rogge's Hong Kong Memories", The Hong Kong Film Archive Newsletter Issue 66, Nov-2013" (PDF). Hong Kong Film Archive (www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/HKFA). Archived from the original on 2017-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory". 香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory - Film still of Sunrise (1952). Retrieved 2017-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Hong Kong Film Archive - About Newsletter Issue 66". www.lcsd.gov.hk. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. 27.0 27.1 "HK Film Archive's "Transcending Space and Time" to showcase early cinematic experience of HK (with photos)". www.info.gov.hk. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". www.victorian-cinema.net. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Smil, Vaclav (2005-08-25). Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199883417.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Raimondo-Souto, H. Mario (2006-11-27). Motion Picture Photography: A History, 1891-1960. McFarland. ISBN 9780786427840.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Griswold, John (2006). Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781425931001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "Chapter 2: The First Competitors: The Standardization of Stock and Gauge - George Eastman". cinemathequefroncaise.com. Retrieved 2018-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "Sound Reporters Radio Middenweg". www.soundreporters.nl. Retrieved 2 January 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. "Psychology Of Spiritual Sects. The Psychological Dynamics Underlying The Creation And Growth Of Spiritual Movements". wichm.home.xs4all.nl. Retrieved 2 January 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Abu-Rabi', Ibrahim (2008). The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought. John Wiley & Sons. p. 461. ISBN 9781405178488.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "Subud At Cross-Roads". World Subud Congress, Sydney. January 1989.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. "What is Subud? Subud Spreads Beyond Indonesia". www.whatissubud.net. Retrieved 2 January 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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