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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Pale Flower' or 'Kawaita hana')

directed by Masahiro Shinoda
Japan 19
64

In this cool, seductive jewel of the Japanese New Wave, a yakuza, fresh out of prison, becomes entangled with a beautiful and enigmatic gambling addict; what at first seems a redemptive relationship ends up leading him further down the criminal path. Bewitchingly shot and edited, and laced with a fever-dream-like score by Toru Takemitsu, this gangster romance was a breakthrough for the idiosyncratic Masahiro Shinoda. The pitch-black Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) is an unforgettable excursion into the underworld.

***

In the style of Seijun Suzuki, Masahiro Shinoda’s Pale Flower blossoms with gambling women, Yakuza crime, drag-racing and Japanese tradition with prevalent Western influences all colliding together in some hip 60's cool 2.35 widescreen fun that distinguishes a totally unique genre . The plot and characterizations all come secondary to the style... and this film is bathed in its own wonderful black and white Tokyo-at-night photography. How can you not love something like this? Its like a time-capsule with a cultural twist. Just as I love Tokyo Drifter, I love Pale Flower.out of  

Theatrical Release: March 1st, 1964 - Japan

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Comparison:

Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Home Vision Entertainment Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection, spine #564 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:48  1:36:19.607
Video 2.35:1.00 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.98 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,724,697,011 bytes

Feature: 28,224,055,296 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Bitrate: DVD

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)  LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• New digital transfer, enhanced for 16X9 televisions
• Newly translated subtitles
• Interview with Director Masahiro Shinoda
• Director filmography
• With liner notes by American Cinematheque Programmer Chris D.

DVD Release Date: November 18th, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 15

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,724,697,011 bytes

Feature: 28,224,055,296 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
New video interview with director Masahiro Shinoda (21:02)
Selected-scene audio commentary by film scholar Peter Grilli, coproducer of Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu (33:47)
Original theatrical trailer (3:47)
20-page liner notes booklet with a new essay by film critic Chuck Stephens

Blu-ray Release Date: May 17th, 2011
transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 17

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - May 11': Home Vision often shared distributorship with Criterion but were taken over by Image Entertainment many years ago. They always produced competent DVD transfers, in my opinion. As far as the SD format goes - their rendering of Shinoda's Pale Flower  was quite strong. We can easily see from the screen captures below the benefits of 1080P. The Blu-ray image has superior contrast and shows more detail in the frame - some of which was lost in the background blackness of the Home Vision transfer. Sharpness too, a function of contrast, improves quite drastically. There is a shade of depth but overall the image advancement in hi-def really improves the presentation with less artifacts and the widescreen scope achieves more of its imposing potential.

Criterion remains faithful with the audio and there is no surround bump - we get a linear PCM mono track in original Japanese mono at 1152 kbps. Obviously front dominant there is still some depth and the film's more aggressive scenes come through with a bit of gusto. Criterion, predictably, have optional English subtitles on the Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

Supplements adds some flavor to the post-viewing with a 20-minute new video interview with director Masahiro Shinoda pleasantly talking about the film and its place in his career. There is also about 1/2 hour's worth of selected-scene audio commentary by film scholar Peter Grilli, coproducer of Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu. Included is an original theatrical trailer, like all video extras in HD, and 20-page liner notes booklet with a new essay by film critic Chuck Stephens.

I get a big kick out of Pale Flower and have shown it to a number of friends. It is a lot of cool atmosphere and pulpy charm. It is super to have it looking so tight and film-like. It is one of those films that you seek during noir-leaning moods - it's a gem that I've seen at least a half dozen times. The Criterion Blu-ray is certainly recommended!     

***

ON THE HomeVision DVD: I love 2.35. This is a great disc from Home Vision. I am surprised it was not bumped to be a Criterion issue. Clear audio and an anamorphic image tight image. Very strong contrast and pitch black - black levels. The interviews are wonderful in the Extras. Great clear subs with unobtrusive font. Only thing missing is a commentary.  out of     

Gary W. Tooze


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"


DVD Menus

Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 
 

 

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Subtitle Sample

 

Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

 

Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Home Vision Entertainment -  Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

More Blu-ray Captures


Recommended Reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Home Vision Entertainment Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection, spine #564 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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