Michael Rogge

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Michael Rogge (born 27 May 1929)[citation needed] (aka IJsbrand Rogge or Ysbrand Rogge) is a Dutch photographer, videographer and amateur filmmaker, best known for his depictions of post-WW2 life in the Far East, in particular, Hong Kong and Japan.

Early life and education[edit]

Rogge was raised in Amsterdam, born to Thea Rogge and her husband IJsbrand Rogge, a Dutch plantation worker and mining prospector based in Dutch Indonesia.[citation needed] His father was born in Indonesia in 1875 and moved to Java in 1891.[1]

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.[citation needed][2]

Rogge recalled viewing films on his father's home movie projector at the age of two[2] and that, in 1939, at the age of 10, he inherited it. He has stated that, in 1942, he received a Kodak Box camera as a gift, and a Kine Exakta camera in 1947, and was able to purchase a used 9.5mm movie camera.[1][2]

He studied at the HBS in Deventer and completed his education in 1948.[3] According to Rogge, he left the Netherlands to work in the Far East in 1949.[2]

Hong Kong and Japan[edit]

In 1949, Rogge moved to Hong Kong to work at the Nederlandsch-Indische Handelsbank (that later became Nationale Handelsbank in 1950 and Rotterdamsche Bank in 1960).[citation needed]

After spending six years in Hong Kong, he moved to Japan in 1955, where he lived until 1960 and made several films on life in Japan.[4][5]

In Japan, he joined his bank colleague Hans Brinckmann to travel the countryside during their weekends.[6][7] During those trips, they photographed scenic landscapes and the lifestyles of ordinary Japanese people, their political struggle, as well as their cultural heritage, including their arts and crafts and religious ceremonies.[8][6][9]

Return to Europe[edit]

In 1961, he returned to Hong Kong to spend a month there and make a documentary.[10]


Rogge shot films while living and working in Hong Kong and on his later travel to Ireland.[11][12] He has been an avid collector of old travelogue footage from far and wide.[13] He has posted and shared these films online, providing a historical record of the locations.[2][14]

Rogge's 1953 short film The Turn of the Tide is thought to be one of the first independent short films made in Hong Kong.[10][15] It narrates the story of the relationship between a young fisherman boy based in Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter and his terminally ill friend.[16] It demonstrated Rogge's abilities extending to drama.[10]

Around 1959–1960, Rogge and Hans Brinckmann had made a 25-minute documentary titled Washo! on how life changed in post-war Japan.[8][9] In 2005, excerpts from Washo! (including narration) were reproduced in a documentary telecast by the Japanese national TV broadcaster NHK.[9]

In 1961, the Dutch television station VPRO commissioned[vague] Rogge to make the documentary film Three Million Souls of Hong Kong, which he completed in 1962.[4]

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".[17]

Although some of his early works were originally silent films, many were edited with voice over commentaries, music and sound effects.[18]


Title Year Color Language Duration Location Notes Refs
Washo! 1959 25 min Japan Documentary [9][8]
Sunrise 1953 Color Silent 8 min Hong Kong [19][17]
Rain 1952 3.5 min Hong Kong [17]
Introducing Hong Kong 1951 23.5 min Hong Kong [17]
Hong Kong Celebrates the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1953 16 min Hong Kong [17]
1949 Strolling from Macdonnell Road into Hong Kong Central 1949 4.5 min Hong Kong [10]
Turn of the Tide 1953 20 min Hong Kong Semi-documentary [10][16]
Three Million Souls of Hong Kong 1962 42 min Hong Kong Documentary [20]


2008 exhibition in Tokyo[edit]

An exhibition entitled Showa Japan seen through Dutch eyes was held in Tokyo at Fujifilm Square from 29 August to 30 September 2008.[6][9] This included works from Rogge and Hans Brinckmann,[9] his former colleague and Dutch writer, who were working for the same bank branch and living in Japan during the 1955–1960 period.[6] This exhibition attracted 49,000 people.[1] 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.[8][9] 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]

From 18 January to 28 February 2009, the same exhibition was partly repeated at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ), Tokyo and appeared as the featured cover story for the February 2009 edition of FCCJ's magazine, Number 1 Shimbun.[21][22][7]

Photographic material presented in this exhibition also appeared in the book titled Showa Japan: The Post-War Golden Age and Its Troubled Legacy brought out by Brinckmann.[23]

2014 seminar in Hong Kong[edit]

A seminar titled Michael Rogge and his Hong Kong of the 1950s was held in Hong Kong during 2014.[24] This included an exhibition titled "Michael Rogge Retrospective" and organized into two separate sessions titled Retrospective (1)[17] and Retrospective (2).[10] The screenings were accompanied by live music composed by Maud Nelissen.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Bateman, Nadine (15 March 2009). "Michael Rogge". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Klatt, Oliver (3 April 2013). "Historischer Filmschatz: Herr Rogges YouTube-Zeitmaschine". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Life in Hong Kong in pictures and video clips 1948 – 50". wichm.home.xs4all.nl. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "香港記憶 – Hong Kong Memory – Hong Kong through Michael Rogge's Len". 香港記憶 – Hong Kong Memory.
  5. ^ "Le Japon en 1916, et autres films étonnants du Néerlandais Michael Rogge · Global Voices en Français". 31 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d "Showa Japan seen through Dutch eyes". fujifilmsquare.jp. Fujifilm. 29 August 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b "FCCJ 'Number 1 Shimbun' February 2009 Issue" (PDF). 1 February 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d "Dutch banker turned writer finds a home and inspiration in Japan". Japan Times. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Brinckmann, Hans (7 May 2011). "Chapter 7: Authority Challenged". Showa Japan: The Post-War Golden Age and Its Troubled Legacy. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 9781462900268.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Film Programmes Office: Michael Rogge Retrospective (2)". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  11. ^ "WATCH: Amazing amateur video shows what Dublin was like in 1960 – Independent.ie". The Irish Independent.
  12. ^ Bradley, Dara (27 April 2017). "Reeling in the years! – Connacht Tribune".
  13. ^ "30 augustus 'eigen geschiedenis op YouTube' (Annemieke Zoutenbier)". Histnow (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  14. ^ https://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelRogge
  15. ^ "香港記憶 – Hong Kong Memory – Interview of Michael Rogge". 香港記憶 – Hong Kong Memory.
  16. ^ a b "香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory – Film still of Turn of the Tide (1953)". 香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g "Film Programmes Office: Michael Rogge Retrospective (1)". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  18. ^ 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 30 December 2017.
  19. ^ "香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory". 香港記憶 Hong Kong Memory – Film still of Sunrise (1952). Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Film still of Three Million Souls of Hong Kong (1961–62)". Hong Kong Memory. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  21. ^ "FCCJ – 'Number 1 Shimbun' Back Issues 2009". 6 January 2018. Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  22. ^ "FCCJ Exhibition – habri2org". habri.co.uk. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  23. ^ 1932–, Brinckmann, Hans (2008). Showa Japan : the tumultuous legacy of Japan's post-war golden age. Rogge, Ysbrand. Tokyo: Tuttle. ISBN 9784805310021. OCLC 245566669.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  24. ^ "HK Film Archive's "Transcending Space and Time" to showcase early cinematic experience of HK (with photos)". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 January 2018.

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