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(aka 'Ugetsu monogatari' or 'Tales of Ugetsu' or 'Tales of a Pale and Mysterious Moon After the Rain')

directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan 1953

The great Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi draws on sources from both East and West for this, his crowning achievement. Focusing on an ambitious potter haunted by a beautiful ghost and a farmer who dreams of becoming a samurai, Ugetsu offers a commentary on the delusions of lust and power and the folly of war. Renowned cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa helps Mizoguchi seamlessly interweave the supernatural with reality, creating one of the most beautiful films of all time.

 

***

 

 "Known to American audiences simply as Ugetsu, this was the film which introduced Mizoguchi to the West. During the civil wars of the 16th century, a potter desperately trying to continue his craft in a war-torn village meets a phantom princess and is lured away to a land of sensual delights. Meanwhile his neighbor, dreaming of military glory, achieves a general's rank for his fraudulent exploits. Eventually, both men are brought down to earth, and they return home to spend the rest of their lives in the fields. But for the women of the tale the lesson has been even more bitter: the potter's wife is murdered by bandits, the samurai's is reduced to prostitution; even the ghost princess, Lady Wakasa, is destroyed by male betrayal. Phantoms and ghosts are evoked in imagic scenes, and fantasy and reality are inseparable, making Mizoguchi's stylistically superb film a powerful study in psychology and an intense tragedy. Ugetsu is evocative of the Buddhist universe of Noh drama, where time is a movement of consciousness, memory is as tangible as the present, and the dead return to voice their grief or longing. Blending a tale of karmic law, a ghost story, and a love story, Mizoguchi also refers to other Japanese art forms such as narrative picture scrolls in his use of perspective and his signature long takes that move us seamlessly from one scene to the next. For, just as his images overflow with life-characters forever running off toward more life outside the frame—so this reality flows into the phantom universe as well. He builds the otherworld entirely out of what he is given in this one: shadows and lighting, decor and texture, and the graceful chicanery of desire."


 Excerpt from the University of California Berkley Pacific Film Archive site located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 26th, 1953 - Tokyo

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Comparison:

Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2 disc) - Region 2- NTSC vs. Criterion (2 disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL LEFT

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

   

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Distribution Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 52/53 - Region 2 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 309

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 36 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Hxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lve (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pp Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Runtime 1:32:12 (4% PAL speedup) 1:36:51 1:36:48  1:36:43.756 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.27 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.63 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.56 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:45,010,819,005 bytes

Feature: 21,996,122,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bo Ying

Bitrate: 

MoC Ugetsu

Bitrate: 

MoC Oyu-Sama

Bitrate:  Criterion

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)  Japanese (Dolby Digital mono)  Japanese (Dolby Digital mono)  DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 830 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 830 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles English, Chinese (Traditional or Simplified), French, None English, None English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Bo Ying

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: 2004

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Tony Rayns on Ugetsu (8:20)
• Original Japanese and original Spanish trailers

Disc 2

• Oyu-Sama (1:33:45)

• Tony Rayns on Oyu-Sama (12:45)

 

• 64-page booklet featuring writing by Keiko I. McDonald (author of Mizoguchi and editor of Ugetsu) and award-winning translations of Ueda Akinari’s The Reed-Choked House and A Serpent’s Lust, tales adapted by Mizoguchi in Ugetsu Monogatari.



DVD Release Date: April 21st, 2008

Transparent Keep Case (overlapping disc holders)
Chapters: 19 + 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by filmmaker, critic, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
• Two Worlds Intertwined, an appreciation of Ugetsu by director Masahiro Shinoda (Double Suicide, Samurai Spy)
• Process and Production, a new video interview with Tokuzo Tanaka, first assistant director on Ugetsu, about the making of the film
• Video interview with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa
• Theatrical trailers

Disc 2 - Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1975), a two-and-a-half-hour documentary by Kaneto Shindo
• Booklet featuring the original short stories on which the film is based—Akinari Ueda’s “The House in the Thicket” and “Lust of the Serpent” and Guy de Maupassant’s “How He Got the Legion of Honor”—and a new essay by critic Phillip Lopate

DVD Release Date: November 8th, 2005

2 Slim bookstyle digipaks inside a cardboard slim VHS-sized case with a booklet Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:45,010,819,005 bytes

Feature: 21,996,122,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Tony Rayns on Ugetsu (8:20)
• Original Japanese and original Spanish trailers

• Oyu-Sama (1:33:45)

• Tony Rayns on Oyu-Sama (12:45)

 

• 64-page booklet featuring writing by Keiko I. McDonald (author of Mizoguchi and editor of Ugetsu) and award-winning translations of Ueda Akinari’s The Reed-Choked House and A Serpent’s Lust, tales adapted by Mizoguchi in Ugetsu Monogatari.



Blu-ray Release Date: April 23rd, 201
2
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 19 + 12
 

Alt version:

This film is also part of the 5 DVD Mizoguchi Boxset, Vol.2 which includes: Les Contes de la lune vague / Miss Oyu / Les Musiciens de Gion / La Rue de la honte / La Vie de O-Haru, femme galante. These issues have no English subtitles but do contain French ones. Purchase link:

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION Masters of Cinema Blu-ray - April 2012: Not  much to address - we get a Mizoguchi classic in hi-def courtesy of MoC! The improved resolution is a significant improvement in-motion - the image is brighter, more detailed via the layered contrast - it shows a shade more information in the frame. Audio gets the HD-bump and ratchets up a notch closer to purity. Optional subtitles are at MoC's usual high standard.

On the supplements they have included Mizoguchi’s Oyu-sama in 1080P plus the Rayns discussions on both films (see below). There is also the included booklet. The Dual-format package also contains a DVD of the feature.

This film always floors me - and it have it in such a wonderful Blu-ray package makes it a true keepsake for the digital library. We rate this 'Essential'.

***

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - April 08': The Criterion was prior to their days of pictureboxing and shows marginal improvement, in the image, over the new Masters of Cinema Ugetsu Monogatori. This is mostly apparent in terms of the (boosted) black levels and lighter damage marks. Frankly, the differences are there but I don't consider them overt. Bottom line is the Criterion appears slightly cleaner and gives the appearance of being minutely sharper. The extras for Ugetsu obviously lean towards Criterion with the Rayns commentary and the 2.5 hour documentary Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director on their second disc.

Not unlike the respective Sansho the Bailiff releases, MoC have gone a different, but very appreciated, route. They have included another Mizoguchi film - the brilliant 1951 love-triangle melodrama Oy-sama as part of their package. It looks very acceptable image-wise with minimal damage and excellent subtitles (see image captures at very bottom). Along with both films MoC have included video discussions from the reliable expert Tony Rayns (about 9 minutes and 13 minutes respectively). As per their custom - a scholarly book is included (64-pages) - this time featuring writing by Keiko I. McDonald (author of Mizoguchi and editor of Ugetsu) and award-winning translations of Ueda Akinari’s The Reed-Choked House and A Serpent’s Lust, tales adapted by Mizoguchi in Ugetsu Monogatari. My only complaint would be that the font is somewhat small (and my eyes are not what they used to be). It has photos and color posters as the cover. I have enjoyed what I have read so far.

Personally, I am content owning both - but if I was forced to choose one I would lean toward the MoC with the inclusion of Oy-sama which I was quite struck with in my first viewing. For Mizoguchi fans I see no option but to own both. Ugetsu is too important and the Criterion package is definitive, but MoC are offering yet another Mizoguchi masterpiece. It seems only a short time ago my ListServ were lamenting the lack of Mizoguchi on DVD.  It is ecstasy indeed to be a Japanese cinema fan these past few years. We can see how far we have come from the analog, bare-bones Bo-Ying of 2004. I, for one, am immensely appreciative of MoC's fine work in presenting us with these immortal classics. I'll be buying a second copy (beyond my free screener) to continue to support their projects. I encourage fans, who can, to do so as well.

NOTE: The MoC Ugetsu appears to run longer via the bitrate info as immediately following the 'end' (no credits) is an interlaced trailer.      

****

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1 - Oct 05':

NOTE: At present my system is having difficulty capturing the Criterion menus. I'm sure it is a software glitch and I will fix as soon as I can.

The Criterion includes the 2.5 hour documentary Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director on the second disc. We have reviewed the Asmik Ace edition of the same documentary HERE. It is great addition to the Criterion package.

The Bo Ying image has been obviously boosted and it looks even more prominent next to the stellar Criterion. The more muted contrast of the Criterion does show its superior sharpness to a strong degree, but it also has a tendency to make scratches more visible. Actually I noticed them most at the beginning of the film (especially the title sequence and credits) and, although there is some minor flickering after, it settles to be an extremely consistent and beautiful image thereafter. In an unusual surprise it is the Bo Ying that suffers from some minor cropping - mostly on the top and left edge. One of the many big differences between these two presentations are the vast improvement of the Criterion subtitle translations.

Although I was prepared for a rather dry commentary - Tony Rayns' audio accompaniment is fabulous - one of the best I can recall from this year. He touches on the film and a lot about Mizoguchi - sometimes very intellectual and formal but a wealth of key information. Great preparation and great delivery.

Pricing - the Boy Ying is only $3.99 US now but, of course, we still recommend the Criterion which somehow has maintained a relatively reasonable price (Pre-order from Amazon at $27.97) with a second disc feature and stunning booklet plus better image, subtitles and extras. A fabulous and classy package from the great Criterion - an easy must-own purchase for any true cinema fan.

***

Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL (2004): As far as DVDBeaver is aware this is presently the only English subtitled DVD of this masterpiece film available anywhere in world. Mizoguchi continues to be the least represented master film director in this digital medium. In this, regarded as his masterpiece film, he explores his major themes of oppression of women and the roles they play in society, the struggling under-class, and avarice.

The DVD appears to be of a decent source and I am not displeased. It has no ghosting or combing that I can see and the bitrate indicates it may very well be progressive. It will, most likely, be eclipsed one day by a Criterion release. Otherwise this is a ridiculously reasonably priced DVD from YesAsia at only $6 and a must-see film for all. Certainly at this point this is the deal of the year!

NOTE: Yes, there are some flaws in the subs ('owen' instead of 'oven' etc.) and the grammar is quite weak. Just be prepared to take a little bad with the good for your $3.99.

Gary W. Tooze


MoC Packaging

 

 

Criterion Packaging

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

 

 

Menus

 

Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - NTSC

 


(Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - images from the 2nd disc Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director - RIGHT)

 


 

 

Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Samples

 

1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

NOTE: Not exact frame

 


Screen Captures

 

1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

(aka 'Oy-sama' or 'Lady yu' or 'Miss Oyu')

directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan 1951

Another literary adaptation – this time of a story by one of Japan’s modern literary masters, novelist Tanizaki Jun’ichiro – Mizoguchi’s Oyu-sama [Miss Oyu] is a poignant and contemplative tale of two sisters and their ill-fated relationship with the same man. At the core is Mizoguchi-regular Tanaka Kinuyo (who also stars in Ugetsu Monogatari) as the eponymous Oyu, the older sister who allows marital customs to dictate the lives of those caught up in this complex love triangle.

Continuing the director’s fascination with the relationship between affairs of the heart and the social mores that shape and sometimes destroy them, Mizoguchi transforms his subject matter into the realm of the transcendental through the use of long, mobile shots – an approach that reaches its apotheosis in a take of almost six minutes — infused with humanity and emotion.

Excerpt from MoC website HERE

Poster

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 2- NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion

 

Box Cover

 

   

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution Bo Ying - Region 0 - PAL

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 52/53 - Region 2 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 309

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 36 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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