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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Osshiki" or "The Funeral" or "Death, Japanese Style" or "Zazambo")

 

Directed by Jz Itami
Japan 1984

 

Its death, Japanese style, in the rollicking and wistful first feature from maverick writer-director Juzo Itami. In the wake of her fathers sudden passing, a successful actor (Itamis wife and frequent collaborator, Nobuko Miyamoto) and her lascivious husband (Tsutomu Yamazaki) leave Tokyo and return to her family home to oversee a traditional funeral. Over the course of three days of mourning that bring illicit escapades in the woods, a surprisingly materialistic priest (Chishu Ryu), and cinemas most epic sandwich handoff, the tensions between public propriety and private hypocrisy are laid bare. Deftly weaving dark comedy with poignant family drama, The Funeral is a fearless satire of the clash between old and new in Japanese society in which nothing, not even the finality of death, is off-limits.

***

Another film about food, sex and death from Itami, inspired by his own participation in the funeral of his wife's father. Yamazaki and Miyamoto play a married couple who are hauled out of their dopey work in a TV studio and plunged into the exceedingly expensive business of co-ordinating the burial rites of the wife's cantankerous father. The three-day wake turns out to be a succession of absurd mishaps, family squabbles and unwelcome surprises, reaching its spiritual nadir when an uninvited woman guest drunkenly insists on having sex with Yamazaki before she'll agree to leave. A light-black satire, this is less a Japanese The Loved One than a rather feebly wishful attempt to revive the Ozu spirit in Japanese cinema. Invoking Ozu (and there are direct visual quotes from The End of Summer and other movies) is to invite comparisons, and that's unwise, given the film's uncertainty of tone and structure. The stand-out sequence is probably also the most realistic: the head of the family struggling to master funeral etiquette from an instructional video.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 17th 1984

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:04:38.554        
Video

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,785,576,737 bytes

Feature: 36,916,647,936 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.38 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,785,576,737 bytes

Feature: 36,916,647,936 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.38 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

New interviews with actors Nobuko Miyamoto (26:03) and Manpei Ikeuchi (15:59)
Creative Marriages: Juzo Itami & Nobuko Miyamoto, a short program produced by the Criterion Channel (10:53)
Commercials for Ichiroku Tart by director Juzo Itami (6:03)
Trailers (3:44)
PLUS: An essay by author Pico Iyer and, for the Blu-ray, excerpts from Itamis 1985 book Diary of The Funeral and from a 2007 remembrance of Itami by actor Tsutomu Yamazaki


Blu-ray Release Date:
May 9th, 2022
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray (May 2022): Criterion have transferred Jz Itami's The Funeral to Blu-ray. It is cited as being a "High-definition restoration". It looks excellent in 1080P on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. The image can show some softness but it appear more linked to the frequently floating camera. Stable shots carry depth, pleasing detail and true, deep colors. There is a black and white sequences (Monochrome document video scene), representing being shot from a home camera - and it has a lot of movement but deft contrast. Overall this has a stronger appearance than I would have anticipated. The HD presentation looked quite good on my system.  

NOTE: We have added 50 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Criterion use a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) in the original Japanese language. The Funeral has no bass-heavy aggressive sequences. The sparse score is by Jji Yuasa (Nagisa shima's Pleasures of the Flesh, Toshio Matsumoto's Funeral Parade of Roses.) The black and white sequence has J.S. Bach's legato Air on the G String sounding poetic and beautiful via the uncompressed transfer. Criterion offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' / 'B' Blu-ray. that is being released in the UK a week before the US and Canada.

The Criterion Blu-ray offers supplements - including new interviews, separately filmed in Tokyo in 2022, with actors Nobuko Miyamoto and Manpei Ikeuchi. Manpei Ikeuchi talks about appearing in The Funeral and the creative life of his parents, Juzo Itami and Nobuko Miyamoto for about 1/4 hour. Nobuko Miyamoto discusses the making of The Funeral; the evolution of her husband, Juzo Itami, as a filmmaker; and their extraordinary collaboration for about 25-minutes. There is also a 11-minute installment of Creative Marriages, a series produced for the Criterion Channel in 2018, where critic Michael Sragow explores the pioneering collaboration of writer-director Juzo Itami and actor Nobuko Miyamoto. Lastly, are a few TV commercials for 'Ichiroku Tart' by director Juzo Itami. This selection is drawn from more than seventy commercials that Itami directed between 1980 and 1996 for Ichiroku Tart, a company headed by Yasushi Tamaoki. Tamaoki provided critical funding for The Funeral and Itami's subsequent films. After Itami's death, Tamaoki established the Itami Juzo Museum in Matsuyama, Japan, where these commercials still play. The package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by author Pico Iyer, excerpts from Itamis 1985 book Diary of The Funeral and from a 2007 remembrance of Itami by actor Tsutomu Yamazaki.  

Jz Itami's The Funeral is a measured black comedy infused with occasional heartfelt realities. It's subtly satirical - with dry humor - different from the cooking-joy of Tampopo, but the sly comedy is evocative of the 1985 film. The family-centric traditions, and ritualistic preparations are mocked with faux attempts to express mourning while juxtaposing the reality of the 'get together' and having a deceased relative. It's witty, sometimes sad and ultimately reflective. It's an excellent, if purposely unbalanced, unique film experience. The Criterion Blu-ray is at their trademark high standard of a/v adding new, and historic, revealing supplements. Absolutely recommended!

Gary Tooze

 


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Box Cover

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Distribution Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray


 


 

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