(aka '47 Ronin' or 'Shijushichinin no shikaku')
Being that this film bears the 47 moniker, and its Japanese title, Shijushichinin no shikaku, features no mention of Chushingura, one can discern that Kon Ichikawa was very much concerned with the real tale of the 47 Ronin. Furthermore, with his version, Ichikawa, a noted pacifist and iconoclast, sought to take the national myth down a notch or two. In his view, these 47 men were valorous with respect to carrying out their assumed duty, but were still very much flawed everyday men. It’s made no secret that Ichikawa feels Oishi may have forced his group into service, and even relied on insubstantial evidence as motive (the film shows the Edo offense only in flashes, with no concrete description of what offense actually took place). In one of the biggest departures from the regular canon, Oishi succumbs to the temptation of an extramarital affair (with a ditzy cutie pie, no less). In going about this new approach Ichikawa assumes a familiarity with the original events, leaving out a number of standard inclusions that are well enough known, but whose absence may leave those new to the tale scratching their heads. Really, if you haven’t seen another Chushingura film, you probably won’t catch these variants and subtle criticisms.
Theatrical Release: October 22nd, 1994 - Tokyo
DVD Review: Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC
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|Distribution||Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 7.11 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
|Audio||Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
|Subtitles||English (full and limited choices), None|
Animeigo give us a decent, if not stellar, image on Ichikawa's 47 Ronin. It is a fairly recent release so the dual-layered transfer is clean but there is a border around the edge of the frame limiting the horizontal resolution to some degree. Colors look acceptably good and there is only minor haze in the sharpness department. It is both progressive and anamorphic.
There are two yellow subtitle options - both English; 'complete' or 'limited'. I tried the 'limited' option after I had viewed the entire film but couldn't get it to function - nothing ever showed. I don't really understand the choice - it didn't work for me. The Dolby Japanese audio is clear and consistent.
NOTE: I've been informed that the "limited subtitles" option will only provide subtitle translations for written text, not spoken words.
There are some static supplements - program notes, bios, an image gallery etc. plus trailers and DVD credits. I was keen to see this rendition of the classic tale not knowing enough to critique its authenticity but I did enjoy revisiting the plot even in its baroque modern form. Kind of interesting - a bit on the long side. I think Animeigo's price is on the high side but others may be as interested in this DVD as I was.