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Japan 1957

A vivid, visceral Macbeth adaptation, Throne of Blood, directed by Akira Kurosawa, sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan. As a hardened warrior who rises savagely to power, Toshiro Mifune gives a remarkable, animalistic performance, as does Isuzu Yamada as his ruthless wife. Throne of Blood fuses classical Western tragedy with formal elements taken from Noh theater to create an unforgettable cinematic experience.

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Theatrical Release Date: January 15th, 1957 - Japan

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Comparison:

Criterion  Region 1 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

BFI PAL DVD screenshots courtesy of Pavel Borodin

1) Criterion- Region 1  - NTSC LEFT

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Criterion Collection  Spine # 190

Region 1 - NTSC

BFI
Region 2 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine #190
Region 'A' -Blu-ray
Runtime 1:49:32 1:44:56 (4% PAL speedup) 1:49:53.837
Video

1.37:1.00 Original Aspect ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1.00 Original Aspect ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.78 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 39,963,256,061 bytes

Feature: 32,465,018,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.04 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Criterion

 

Bitrate:

BFI

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) 

Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) 

LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, and none English (non-removable) English (Hoaglund), English (Richie), and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Home Vision Entertainment

Edition Details
  • Audio commentary by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New essay by Stephen Prince (The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa)
  • Two alternative subtitle translations: a new version from renowned Japanese-film translator Linda Hoaglund, and Kurosawa expert Donald Richie
  • Notes on subtitling by Linda Hoaglund and Donald Richie

DVD Release Date: May 27, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Edition Details

• Kurosawa & Mifune Biographies

• Trailers

DVD Release Date: October 22nd, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion
 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 39,963,256,061 bytes

Feature: 32,465,018,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.04 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck
• Documentary on the making of the film, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create (22:44)
• Two alternate subtitle translations, by Japanese-film translator Linda Hoaglund and Kurosawa expert Donald Richie
• Trailer (3:45)
• One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince and notes on the subtitling by Hoaglund and Richie

Blu-ray Release Date: January 7th, 2014
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 23

 

Comments:

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

 

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (December 2013): Solid upgrade from the 10-year old Criterion DVD. Everything is visually superior in the 1080P transfer, more layered contrast, sharper, a hint of textured grain, more information in the frame etc. Audio goes linear PCM in original mono and Masaru Satô (The Lower Depths, Hidden Fortress, I Live in Fear etc.) score sounds excellent, if predictably flat. As with the DVD Criterion offer two different subtitle translations - Hoaglund and Richie's. The former more classical and literal. It's nice to have the choice as it's akin to watching another film - the translations can be that different.

 

Criterion include the older audio commentary featuring Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck, a 22-minute documentary on the making of the film, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create and a trailer. The package has one Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats and there is a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince and notes on the subtitling by Hoaglund and Richie.

 

It was very pleasing to see this again in the higher resolution and uncompressed audio. I look forward to more of Criterion's Kurosawa library reaching Blu-ray. This is a powerful film and an easy recommendation!

 

***

ON THE DVDs: How many ways do you want the Criterion to be better? The picture has immensely better contrast... a sharper image... removable subs... better extras... almost double the bit-rate. So this comparison is kind of a no-brainer. On a down note for Criterion; their image appears slightly cropped on the left edge... but if you weigh this factor against the others, it means nothing! the BFI has excess contrast boosting. The Criterion is more money, but its worth every penny. 

- 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

(Criterion- Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 

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

 

Subtitle Samples

 

1) "Hoaglund" Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) "Richie" Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  BOTTOM

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion- Region 1  - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion- Region 1  - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion- Region 1  - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion- Region 1  - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion- Region 1  - NTSC TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Criterion Collection  Spine # 190

Region 1 - NTSC

BFI
Region 2 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine #190
Region 'A' -Blu-ray

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Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion DVD + Blu-ray