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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'The Idiot')

Japan 1951

"Of all my films, people wrote to me most about this one... ...I had wanted to make The Idiot long before Rashomon. Since I was little I've liked Russian literature, but I find that I like Dostoevsky the best and had long thought that this book would make a wonderful film. He is still my favorite author, and he is the one — I still think — who writes most honestly about human existence." - AKIRA KUROSAWA.


Akira Kurosawa's The Idiot, his only adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel, was a cherished project on which it is claimed he expended more effort than on any other film. A darkly ambitious exploration of the depths of human emotion, it combines the talents of two of the greatest Japanese actors of their generation — Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo) and Setsuko Hara (Tokyo Story, Late Spring). The Idiot is perhaps the most contemplative of all Kurosawa's works, a tone which is heightened by the unusual, trance-like performances.

Kurosawa's electrifying dramatization uproots the novel's Russian Summer setting to a memorable, snowbound Hokkaido — the northern-most island of Japan, closest to Russia in climate and custom. War criminal Kameda (Masayuki Mori), reprieved from a death sentence, is fresh out of the asylum, mentally fragile, and prone to epileptic fits. In turn, his emotional involvement with two women (Setsuko Hara and Yoshiko Kuga) and his new, increasingly volatile friend Akama (Toshiro Mifune) leads further into madness and gross tragedy.

Filmed between Rashomon and Ikiru, Kurosawa poured himself into faithfully capturing the essence of his favorite author's work — only to see it butchered by the studio. Never at all released in its original 266-minute form, the original Kurosawa edit was only ever shown once at the Japanese premiere and then re-edited by the studio prior to the official Japanese release the following week. In spite of Kurosawa's own efforts to locate the original version in the studio's vaults forty years later, his cut is now sadly considered lost.


Theatrical Release: May 23rd, 1951 - Tokyo

Reviews                                                              DVD Reviews


DVD Comparison:

 Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL

 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC LEFT vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Eureka Video  (Masters of Cinema # 16) - Region 2 - NTSC

Madman Films

Region 4 - PAL

Runtime 2:46:25  2:39:35 (4% PAL speedup)
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.87 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.5 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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

Bitrate:  Moc

Bitrate:  Madman

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)  Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Alex Cox introduction (7:47)
• 36-page liner notes booklet with a new essay by Daryl Chin, and a reprint of the section on The Idiot from KUROSAWA: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto.

DVD Release Date: November, 2005

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 13

Release Information:
Studio: Madman Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Stlls Gallery (1:22)
• Directors Suite Trailers (The Early Summer, The Autumn Afternoon, Seven Samurai, Taste of Cherry,
• The Wind Will Carry Us)

DVD Release Date: 12 May 2006

Chapters 15




ADDITION: Madman - Region 4 PAL - April 07': Progressive, but the PAL edition is hazier and has some brightness boosting. Supplements also go to the Masters of Cinema release and that is what we recommend.


The MoC: The image looks dark but acceptably sharp. It is progressively transferred and contrast appears to be good with decent, if muted, grayscales. This may not be the best image we have ever seen from Master of Cinema but I truly appreciate that they did not try to counter balance the darkness with contrast boosting as most every other DVD production company in the world would have done - thereby destroying the integrity of the presentation. I am also very thankful to actually see this film which I was quite taken with - power performances by such luminaries as Setsuko Hara, Toshirô Mifune and Takashi Shimura only add to the splendor of this release. The Cox intro has some merit and mostly I was enthralled by Daryl Chin's liner notes essay - I love the way way this man expresses himself. This is a VERY worthy DVD and I can't imagine the pains the Master's of Cinema lads had getting this out. I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. I may mention this DVD in my Year End voting. We strongly recommend!

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC LEFT vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - RIGHT)


Subtitle Sample


 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - BOTTOM)




Screen Captures


 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - BOTTOM)




 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - BOTTOM)




 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - BOTTOM)




 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - BOTTOM)



 (Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Madman Films (Directors Suite) - Region 4 - PAL - BOTTOM)


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

Check out more in "The Library"


DVD Box Cover


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Distribution Eureka Video  (Masters of Cinema # 16) - Region 2 - NTSC


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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,


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