(aka '47 Samurai" or "Chushingura" or "Loyal 47 of the Genroku Era" or "The 47 Ronin" or "The Loyal 47 Ronin ')

directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan 19
41

 

Most film aficionados outgrow discussions of the "greatest films of all time." Not me. For more than a decade I've had three favorites. Stan Brakhage's Arabics, a series of abstract silent films of perpetually shifting colors and shapes and spaces, is one; another is Roberto Rossellini's mystical, expansive personal documentary India. And the third is Kenji Mizoguchi's two-part, four-hour Genroku Chushingura (usually translated as "The Loyal 47 Ronin of the Genroku Era"), being shown in Chicago for the first time in several years this weekend at the Film Center.

Great narrative films, whether from Hollywood or France or Japan, are often searing because their visual style articulates the story's emotions, interpreting and intensifying the drama. The same may be said of Mizoguchi's 1941-'42 film, but individual characters' emotions are seldom as important as they are in other films. Mizoguchi uses few close-ups, and the camera never seems to encourage identification with a character's inner life. Instead Mizoguchi creates music in space through slow, deliberate, magisterial long takes.

The film is based on a famous historical incident, one that inspired numerous 18th- and 19th-century Japanese plays and at least 20 films and so is well-known to Japanese audiences; told elliptically here, it could prove confusing at first. In 1701, a century after the Tokugawa shogunate ended the samurai wars, the samurai and their codes of honor began to decline in the face of a growing mercantile culture and its laws. At this time two lords at the shogun's castle in Tokyo (then called Edo) were designated to receive envoys from Kyoto. Kira had failed to instruct the younger and less experienced Asano in proper court etiquette, probably because Asano hadn't offered him the customary bribe. On the third day of the envoy's visit, Asano overheard Kira insult his knowledge of protocol, and it is with this incident that the film begins
. out of

 
Excerpt from Fred Camper's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE

VHS Covers

Theatrical Release: December 8th, 1941 - Japan

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DVD Comparison:

 Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC

(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 3:41:47  3:41:47 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.77 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.11 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

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

Bitrate: Image Entertainment

Bitrate: UniOne Media Korea

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)  Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles English, None English, Korean, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date:
June 29th, 1999
Snapper Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: UniOne Media Korea

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date:
April 29th, 2006
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 20

 

 

Comments:

ADDITION: UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 (May 2006): Very disappointing - it appears obvious that UniOne has simply ported (illegally?) the old Image Entertainment release and stuck on some optional Korean (awful yellow) subtitles to add to the existing English ones. Image quality has no improvement, in fact - the Korean release is slightly boosted and has 'combing' indicating a non-progressive transfer as, of course, they didn't have a master but just ported the out-of-print US DVD. Shameful, but I find only one bright spot - individuals need no longer pay the exorbitant prices offered in auctions and marketplaces for this US DVD - it was really getting ridiculous. The Image Entertainment DVD is barely watch-able and still unavailable, but at least some fans can see the film while waiting for a restoration that may never come.

****

This DVD is one of the most sought after in the world and is fetching prices upward of $170 US from Amazon's Marketplace. It is certainly not for the DVD image quality, but essentially is the one (English subtitled) film of the great Kenji Mizoguchi presently available on DVD in NTSC ("The Life of Oharu" and "The Lady From Musashino" have been available from Artificial Eye (Region 2 - PAL) since 2004.). It is quite an old (1999) Image Entertainment release, but has removable English subtitles. It is in very poor condition with damage and flickering contrast throughout the entire 3 1/2 hours.

It is divided into two parts (1 + 2) and has nice menus considering the age of the DVD transfer. Original audio the data fills a whopping 7.78 Gig of the dual layered disc. I'm unsure if splitting this over two DVDs would have helped the image, but I suppose it is quite possible. Perhaps the biggest crime of this DVD package are the lack of extra features (as in none).

In our previous review Acquarello has stated:

"The source print is from Janus (Home Vision Cinema/Criterion label), and as a rare, neglected, and largely suppressed Japanese propaganda film (it was not available in the US until the 1970's, and even then, through inferior prints), this transfer is quite remarkable, and is probably the best that will ever surface, barring a major restoration."

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

 

(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- RIGHT)

 

 

 


Subtitle Sample

 

(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- BOTTOM)

 

NOTE Visible combing (in face) of the UniOne Media Korea edition

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- BOTTOM)

 

NOTE Exact damage marks...

 

 


 
(Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC- BOTTOM)
 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

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

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC UniOne Media Korea - Region 0 - NTSC




 

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Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

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