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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka "Sanjuro" or "Tsubaki Sanjr" )

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/kurosawa.htm
Japan 1962

Toshiro Mifune swaggers and snarls to brilliant comic effect in Akira Kurosawa’s tightly paced, beautifully composed Sanjuro. In this sly companion piece to Yojimbo, the jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors weed out their clan’s evil influences, and in the process turns their image of a “proper” samurai on its ear. Less brazen in tone than its predecessor but just as engaging...

***

Based upon the novel ”Peaceful days” by Yamamoto Shugoro, Kurosawa wrote the script for ”Sanjuro” before doing ”Yojimbo”, but rewrote it after “Yojimbo” became a success, changing the main character from a weak samurai to Sanjuro, as the study decided it to be sort of a sequel to “Yojimbo”. Kurosawa was going to give the script to Horikawa Hiromichi, his former assistant director, but Toho asked Kurosawa to do it, who then rewrote it again, for the third time, this time making Sanjuro even stronger.

The story is even more simple than “Yojimbo”. The nephew of the chamberlain and his friends, all young samurai, try to clean up the corruption in the city. Failing, Sanjuro steps in to help them.

Mifune is amazing as Sanjuro. Virtually repeating his character from “Yojimbo”, Kurosawa even copies the “my name is…” scene, Sanjuro is now a moral instructor, rather than an immoral dog. Mifune has also refined the character. Still having his idiosyncrasies, the context makes him stand more out, thus he underplays them slightly. I have always found it fascinating to view the two films back to back and see how Mifune is able to control his physical acting, at times even parodying his own character.

As the most didactic film by Kurosawa, it very much plays upon the naivety of the young samurai and the wisdom of the old samurai, and can be viewed as a variation of the oyabun-kobun relationship. Constantly moral issues are presented and answered for us. But, even though most of Kurosawa’s films are more or less didactic, due to his humanism, “Sanjuro” uses it as a sharp tool of satire and to note upon the fake and real samurai. Again here physical acting is important. Note for instance how Mifune sits (lazy, relaxed) vs. how the young samurai sits (ceremonial).

Always a major theme in the films of Kurosawa, the illusion of “reality” and actual reality, no other character than Sanjuro plays upon this. While being a real samurai, he looks more like a bum, unshaven and dirty with worn-down clothes. But where Kurosawa uses this to demonstrate social decay in “Yojimbo”, he here uses it to create a dichotomy between the fake samurai (those without training in war, but of “noble” blood) and the actual samurai. The group of young samurais, lead by the chamberlain’s nephew are little more than just the clothes they are wearing.

Kurosawa even takes this theme a step further and turns “Sanjuro” into a comedy, as he blends chambara with jidai-geki, thereby stressing the reality of a traditional period piece with the illusion of it thru chambara. Especially the final fight is chambara. Where swordfights in other jidai-geki from Kurosawa always are demonstrations of skill and style, here Sanjuro not only rips open his opponent in one slash, but he dies in a blood geyser. This is clearly not reality, as for instance in “Shichinin no Samurai” nor “Yojimbo”, but the illusion of reality.

Surprisingly, while the chambara normally attracts young viewers, it was “Yojimbo” which became the favourite of the young audience, while the adult audience preferred “Sanjuro”.

It is a film hard to approach. It feels at times claustrophobic and Kurosawa seems more interested in making fun of the genre, rather than making the story as fluid as his other works. It is demanding to watch, which probably was why the adult audience preferred it. But familiar with Kurosawa and the samurai genre, “Sanjuro” stands out as a delightful parody
.

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 1st, 1962 - Japan

Reviews       More Reviews         DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Criterion (REISSUE) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Criterion's DVD REISSUEs and Blu-rays of Sanjuro also comes in a package with Yojimbo!

           

         

Distribution

Criterion Collection (REISSUE) - Spine # 53 Region 1  - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 53

Region 1  - NTSC

BFI Video Publishing
Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine # 53 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:45 1:35:39 1:31;39 (4% PAL speedup) 1:35:57.793
Video

2.38:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.27 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.07:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.9 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.55:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.82 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 42,493,590,459 bytes

Feature Size: 31,689,117,696 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Criterion (reissue)

 

Bitrate:

Criterion (original)

 

Bitrate:

 

BFI

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono), Japanese (Dolby Digital 3.0 Mono) Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 2173 kbps 3.0 / 48 kHz / 2173 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 3.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, and none English, and none English (non-removable) English, and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.38:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by film historian and Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince
• A 35-minute documentary on the making of Sanjuro, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
• Theatrical trailer and teaser
• Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos
• Liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow and notes and statements from Kurosawa and his cast and crew

DVD Release Date: January 23rd, 2007
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen - 2.07:1

Edition Details:
• Original Theatrical trailer
• 3 page liner essay by Michael Sragow

DVD Release Date: September 28th, 1999
Keep Case

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video Publishing

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.55:1

Edition Details:

• Introduction by Alex Cox (14:25)
• Biographies of Kurosawa and Mifune
• Also available on DVD
• Acknowledgements

• 1 page liner essay by Philip kemp

DVD Release Date: October 6th, 2003

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 10

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

Disc Size: 42,493,590,459 bytes

Feature Size: 31,689,117,696 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by film historian and Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince
• A 35-minute documentary on the making of Sanjuro, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
• Theatrical trailer and teaser
• Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos
• Liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow and notes and statements from Kurosawa and his cast and crew

Blu-ray Release Date: March 23rd, 2010
Thick Transparent Blu-ray Case
Chapters 20

Recommended Reading for Japanese Film Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Japan Journals : 1947-2004,

by  Donald Richie

The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film
by Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp

Kon Ichikawa (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs)

by James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario

Shohei Imamura (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 1)
by James Quandt
Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema (Midland Book, Mb 469)
by David Desser
The Films of Akira Kurosawa by Donald Ritchie

Tokyo Story

by Yasujiro Ozu, Kogo Noda, Donald Richie, Eric Klestadt

A Hundred Years of Japanese Film by Donald Richie

Check out more in "The Library"


Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION- Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  February 2010: Like Yojimbo, The improvement can seem subtle at times but is still very evident overall. Contrast doesn't appear to have moved as dramatically as we have seen some Blu-ray  releases but it still looks like a solid upgrade from SD-DVD. Grain is more visible and looks consistent while nicely texturizing the image but it tends to look 'over-cleaned' at times. The final result of the move to Blu-ray supports the visuals to a more pronounced degree appearing much more film-like but it still looks cropped beside the BFI (and Madmen).

Criterion has kept the 3.0 channel Perspecta audio preserving the original simulated-stereo effects in lossless DTS HD Master track. It doesn't have extensive buoyancy but certain scenes (the rain) garner some subtle appreciation. The mono track has also been kept as a linear PCM offering (same rendering as the commentary). There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

Extras duplicate the 2007 DVD with the fine Prince commentary and 35-minute "making of..." documentary (see expanded descriptions below) although now in HD.

I've always been more of a fan or Yojimbo but this is the companion piece and deserves its space on your digital-library shelf. I couldn't find any valid reasons not to indulge in the two-pack savings although I am less enthusiastic about this transfer.

****

ADDITION: Criterion - REISSUE - January 07' - I'm going to have to claim ignorance here as I have no idea why the BFI (and Madman) print shows much more information on the side edges. To me - it looks much better - Kurosawa was known for using the entire frame and in the new Criterion REISSUE occasionally characters and details are not fully visible. All the research I can determine indicates that the original aspect ratio is 2.35:1 which the Criterion REISSUE adheres to. Criterion have made leaps and bounds improvements over their original release which was not even anamorphic. It is cleaner and sharper than the old issue as well as showing more information in the frame. The BFI is quite darker but I suspect that it has had no manipulations to alter the print utilized for the transfer. It is quite probable that the BFI is a more accurate representation of the film, but again, I have no positive proof. The Criterion REISSUE does show more information (marginally) both top and bottom of the frame over the BFI. Fans of the film will be much happier with the new Criterion over the old and the REISSUE does have numerous benefits over the BFI (see below). 

As with their new Yojimbo release, Criterion have given the option of the 3.0 Perspecta track preserving the original simulated-stereo effects. This time I didn't notice any strong dynamic improvement but admittedly audio is never reviewed well by my crusty old ears. It's a great option to have and those keen on it will no doubt benefit.

Stephen Prince, who is a contributor on many other Kurosawa Criterion DVD commentaries or liner notes (RAN, Seven Samurai, Rashomom, Kagemusha, Ikiru,Yojimbo and Red Beard) does another excellent job with his discussion of Sanjuro. As one might have anticipated - he is again well-prepared, loaded with information and expertly professional - with no gaps and no real repetition of the information imparted in the Yojimbo commentary. There is also a 35-minute documentary on the making of Sanjuro, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, a theatrical trailer, a stills gallery and some extensive liner notes featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow and further notes from Kurosawa and his cast and crew.

I'll admit I do have some reservations about the framing issue but the Prince commentary is the biggest selling feature to this new Criterion DVD. We certainly endorse the new double Yojimbo/Sanjuro package and if we are able to determine any further details about the aspect ratio - we will post it here.

***

Note the vast amount of information cutoff from the sides of the non-anamorphic Criterion DVD. It could be considered one of the major faux-pas of DVD production. I calculate it to be over 17%! Considering Kurosawa's full use of widescreen, this is quite a shock. I also see some contrast boosting on the Criterion. The BFI edition is less-so cropped on the top edge. The BFI have wonderful live-action menus. Contrast goes to the BFI edition as do extras with the interesting Alex Cox introduction. I prefer the subtitles on the Criterion, but we have no choice but to dismiss the Criterion for the extensive adjustment to the Kurosawa's original image. Lets hope Criterion reissues both Yojimbo and Sanjuro 'properly' in the future.

NOTE: there is a Region 4 (Madman) PAL DVD of Sanjuro available but like Yojimbo it suffers from NTSC-PAL ghosting and has weak contrast (see 9th large capture below). The BFI is the definitive DVD edition of this classic Kurosawa masterpiece.

 - Gary W. Tooze


 

This is the BFI Title

(MOUSE OVER ABOVE IMAGE TO SEE CRITERION ORIGINAL TITLE... and differences!)


DVD Menus

Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC

 



(Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


 

Subtitle Samples

NOTE: Not exact frame!

 

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Madman R4 -PAL - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

NOTE: Extensive cropping!

 

 


1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray captures

 

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras:  Blu-ray / Criterion - REISSUE

 


Recommended Reading for Kurosawa Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


 

DVD Box Covers

 

Criterion's DVD REISSUEs and Blu-rays of Sanjuro also comes in a package with Yojimbo!

           

         

Distribution

Criterion Collection (REISSUE) - Spine # 53 Region 1  - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 53

Region 1  - NTSC

BFI Video Publishing
Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine # 53 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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Sanjuro