Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Saikaku ichidai onna" or "Diary of Oharu" or "The Life of Oharu" or "Saikaku: Life of a Woman")

directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan 1952

A peerless chronicler of the soul who specialized in supremely emotional, visually exquisite films about the circumstances of women in Japanese society, Kenji Mizoguchi had already been directing movies for decades when he made The Life of Oharu in 1952. But this epic portrait of an inexorable fall from grace, starring the astounding Kinuyo Tanaka as an imperial lady-in-waiting who gradually descends to street prostitution, was the movie that gained the director international attention, ushering in a new golden period for him.

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 3rd, 1952 - Japan

Reviews                     More Reviews                       DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Artificial Eye -  Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

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

 

Box Cover

Distribution Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 664  - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:10:36 (4% PAL Speedup) 2:16:52.871
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.5 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.37:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,586,072,925 bytes

Feature: 39,311,075,328 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.01 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

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

Bitrate:

 

Bitrate: Blu-ray

 

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)  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 (ingrained) English, none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye Film Company

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

 

Edition Details:

• Mizoguchi filmography 

DVD Release Date: April 26th, 2004

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

 

1.37:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,586,072,925 bytes

Feature: 39,311,075,328 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.01 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• 
New audio commentary for the opening of the movie by film scholar Dudley Andrew
• Mizoguchi’s Art and the Demimonde, an illustrated audio essay featuring Andrew (18:50)
• The Travels of Kinuyo Tanaka, a 2009 film by Koko Kajiyama documenting the actor’s 1949 goodwill tour of the United States (31:13)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Gilberto Perez

Blu-ray Release Date: July 9th, 2013
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 21

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION Criterion Blu-ray - June 2013: While there is no doubt weaknesses with the source it is easy to see that the Criterion, at over 5X the bitrate, is head-and-tails above the muddy AE SD from 2004. The 1080P is brighter with better contrast but as the superior resolution also brings out detail to a higher degree it also show the light-t-moderate damage - usually in the form of small scratches (often just beneath the surface) that are notable in almost every frame. What is most pleasing is the visible grain. Frankly, this looks significantly better than I was anticipating. A combination of Criterion's restoration and the HD improvement have really given The Life of Oharu an impressive advancement in its digital visual presentation.

Audio is uncompressed via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in original Japanese. It is imperfect but there are no dramatic flaws. The subtitle translation is 'new' and has some significant differences from the AE. I'm confident the Criterion translation is more detailed and accurate. The Blu-ray disc is region A-locked.

Extras include 28-minutes worth (from the start of the film) of a new (recorded 2013) audio commentary by film scholar Dudley Andrew and it is quite good although being longer would have been appreciated. We also get Mizoguchiís Art and the Demimonde, a 19-minute illustrated audio essay written and narrated by Andrew exploring Mizoguchi's interest in the theatre, art and fiction of 17th-18th Century Japan. He locates the root of his idea for the adaptation of The Life of Oharu in his second post-war film, Utamaro and His Five Women. Also included is the 1/2 hour piece The Travels of Kinuyo Tanaka, a 2009 film by Koko Kajiyama documenting the actorís October 1949 goodwill tour of the United States visiting Hawaii and California eventually heading east. The film by Kajiyama documents Tanaka's controversial journey using archival footage and photos. It was produced in association with Geiyu-kai and was screened as part of an exhibition at the National Film Centre in Tokyo in 2009. There is also a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Gilberto Perez. 

 The Life of Oharu is a touching and indiscreet examination of human violation, suffering, and humiliation. Criterion have created the definitive digital release - another worthy of the most-essential Blu-ray releases of the year to date. Strongly recommended!

***

The image is quite dark, but sharper than I had anticipated. Now that doesn't mean it's stunning, but just that I had limited expectations after hearing rumors about this release (and Lady of Musashino whose subs are NOT ingrained!) . The subtitles are, unfortunately, ingrained, but are of decent quality. The contrast could be improved (akin to the AE 'Apu Trilogy').

I am pretty happy with the image but appalled that there are no Extras. Mizoguchi has had a huge delay on DVD with English subtitles (aside from Image Entertainments 'The 47 Ronin'). A great film and one worthy of better treatment in my mind. Still, it could have been as bad as the Columbia Tri-star Apu Trilogy. We will take what we can get.  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"


 Menus

Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP

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

 

Screen Captures

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP

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

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP

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

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP

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

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP

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

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP

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

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP

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

 

More Blu-ray Captures

Box Cover

Distribution Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 664  - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!