Tartan's Ozu Volume 1: The Noriko Trilogy - "Late Spring", "Early Summer" and "Tokyo Story"




 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Tartan Video - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Purchase Link


All 3 Tartan Ozu Boxsets
The Noriko Trilogy - "Late Spring", "Early Summer" and "Tokyo Story" Record of a Tenement Gentleman and Flavor of Green Tea over Rice Equinox Flower, Tokyo Twilight and Good Morning

Tartan Video

Region 0 - PAL 

Runtime Show all three editions are from unconverted NTSC transfers!
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: for all 3 films is about 7.00 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Tartan Video (UK)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Trailers
• Photo Gallery

• Excellent liner notes by Nick Wrigley

DVD Release Date: December 6, 2004
Triple Digipack

Chapters 16, 24, 22 (respectively)




Due to the great interest of this release we have placed it under the microscope to expand upon our three comparisons -  "Late Spring", "Early Summer" and "Tokyo Story". Initial thoughts were not too damning, although we were disappointed by the improper conversion to DVD.  We would like to expand upon our judgment that it is a flawed product. As Tartan were given the NTSC transfers from Shochiku they, perhaps through laziness, but more likely through economic viability, did not convert to PAL for their own DVDs. We have seen it many times before - and we don't like the results - 'ghosting' in motion sequences, prevalent artifacts and most damning - lack of detail in the image quality. It is most troubling.

Like the Criterion release of "Tokyo Story" - the Tartan DVDs all suffer from fluctuating contrast levels. It is quite noticeable and disturbing. Another point is the damage that is consistent through "Late Spring" and "Tokyo Story" and shows , if even to a lesser degree, in "Early Summer".

Another huge faux-pas in these discs are the statement on the packaging box that there are "commentaries from some of UK's leading film critics". Well there are none and I am quite surprised that they did not correct the box, or delay the release and get some commentaries - the films certainly warrant them.

So everything that could have gone wrong with these releases appears to have transpired - weak transfers - no worthy extra features and misleading statements on the packaging.

The one ray of decency, aside from the handsome physical packaging, are the the 6 page liner notes by Nick Wrigley of OzuYasujiro.com. In a recent poll on the DVDBeaver ListServ , I rated this as the most disappointing release of the year which I bought almost solely for the "Late Spring" DVD. I realize my expectations were too high - although I honestly didn't see them having the potential to be superior to their Criterion counterparts - I did expect some valued extras.  My assumption was that it would be superior to the Panorama Region 3 DVD, which it is - but only barely so. So what do I suggest? Buy the Criterion editions of both "Tokyo Story" and "Early Summer" and then either wait for the Criterion "Late Spring" (a year?) or buy the Panorama as a temporary fix. DVDBeaver does not endorse this Tartan Box. 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

Ozu by Donald Richie

A Hundred Years of Japanese Film by Donald Richie

Check out more in "The Library"

DVD Menus


Screen Captures


Late Spring


Excellent shot shows clarity and deep black levels. The trouble is that it is not consistent!




Minor ghosting can be seen in Noriko's (Setsuko Hara) motioning hand.




Contrast fluctuations appear in waves through most of the film (see darkened damage cloud on right side)



Early Summer


A decent, if not pristine shot.



Again, motion sequences show extreme blurriness.



Tokyo Story
Ghosting of Shukishi's (Chishu Ryu) fan motion on right side of image!



Constant scratches (top of frame) and contrast fluctuation (like the Criterion issue) are prevalent throughout!


All 3 Tartan Ozu Boxsets
The Noriko Trilogy - "Late Spring", "Early Summer" and "Tokyo Story" Record of a Tenement Gentleman and Flavor of Green Tea over Rice Equinox Flower, Tokyo Twilight and Good Morning

Tartan Video

Region 0 - PAL 


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Gary Tooze