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Postwar Kurosawa

 

No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)       One Wonderful Sunday (1947)


Scandal (1950)       The Idiot (1951)       I Live in Fear (1955)

 

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Akira Kurosawa came into his own as a filmmaker directly following World War II, delving into the state of his devastated nation with a series of pensive, topical dramas. Amid Japan’s economic collapse and U.S. occupation, Kurosawa managed to find humor and redemption existing alongside despair and anxiety. In these five early films, which range from political epic to Capraesque whimsy to courtroom potboiler, Kurosawa revealed the artistic range and social acuity that would mark his career and make him the most popular Japanese director in the world.

 


Titles

 

 


 

No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)
In Akira Kurosawa's first film after the end of World War II, future beloved Ozu regular Setsuko Hara gives an astonishing performance as Yukie, the only female protagonist in Kurosawa's body of work and one of his strongest heroes. Transforming herself from genteel bourgeois daughter to independent social activist, Yukie traverses a tumultuous decade in Japanese history.

One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
This affectionate paean to young love is also a frank examination by Akira Kurosawa of the harsh realities of postwar Japan. During a Sunday trip into war-ravaged Tokyo, Yuzo and Masako look for work and lodging, as well as affordable entertainments to pass the time. Reminiscent of Frank Capra’s social-realist comedies and echoing contemporaneous Italian neorealism, One Wonderful Sunday touchingly offers a sliver of hope in dark times.

Scandal (1950)
A handsome, suave Toshiro Mifune lights up the screen as painter Ichiro, whose circumstantial meeting with a famous singer (Yoshiko Yamaguchi) is twisted by the tabloid press into a torrid affair. Ichiro files a lawsuit against the seedy gossip magazine, but his lawyer, Hiruta (Kurosawa stalwart Takashi Shimura), is playing both sides. A portrait of cultural moral decline, Scandal is also a compelling courtroom drama and a moving tale of human redemption.

The Idiot (1951)
After finishing what would become his international phenomenon Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa immediately turned to one of the most daring, and problem-plagued, productions of his career. The Idiot, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's nineteenth-century masterpiece about a wayward, pure soul's reintegration into society— updated by Kurosawa to capture Japan’s postwar aimlessness—was a victim of studio interference and, finally, public indifference. Today, this "folly" looks ever more fascinating, a stylish, otherworldly evocation of one man’s wintry mindscape.

I Live in Fear (1955)
Both the final film of this period in which Akira Kurosawa would directly wrestle with the demons of the Second World War and his most literal representation of living in an atomic age, the galvanizing I Live in Fear presents Toshiro Mifune as an elderly, stubborn businessman so fearful of a nuclear attack that he resolves to move his reluctant family to South America. With this mournful film, the director depicts a society emerging from the shadows but still terrorized by memories of the past and anxieties for the future.

Posters

 

Theatrical Releases: 1946 - 1955

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series Seven from the Criterion Collection (5-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:50:52, 1:49:16, 1:44:52, 2:46:30 and 1:43:20
Bitrate:

No Regrets For Our Youth

Bitrate:

One Wonderful Sunday

Bitrate:

Scandal

Bitrate:

The Idiot

Bitrate:

I Live in Fear

Audio Japanese (original mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

5 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box
Chapters (respectively): 20, 16, 17, 21, 14

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 5 main features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above) they are not sold separately at this time. These particular editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series Seven - Postwar Kurosawa package at present.

All five DVDs are dual-layered and, very encouraging, are NOT pictureboxed transferred (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). Each are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The transfers are progressive and in the original 1.33 aspect ratio. The audio for all is original mono Japanese and there are optional English subtitles. Aside from one page liner notes there are no extras - keeping in-line with Criterion's edict in regards to their sub-label Eclispe.

We have compared to existing editions (Masters of Cinema's Region 2 NTSC editions of Scandal and The Idiot and the single-layered PAL BFI in the case of I Live in Fear). Specific observations are as follows:

No Regrets for Our Youth has damage issues but presents itself much superior to any other DVD editions I have seen (Mei Ah have put out nearly all of Kurosawa's films on the most deplorable transfers I have seen with ineffectual subtitle translations fraught with grammar and spelling errors). The Eclipse version has plenty of visible scratches but if you look deep enough you can see some grain amongst the speckles. Setsuko Hara's eyes and visage still stir emotional response and her performance is mesmerizing. Overall it has moments of strong quality and some inherent visual weaknesses as well - Criterion have done very little in terms of restoration but their subtitle translation seems professional (as always) and this is the best English-language digital release of this film ever available to my knowledge.

One Wonderful Sunday - this too exhibits damage in many forms but contrast is a notch above No Regrets. It has some definite swings in quality but overall this another thoroughly watchable DVD and I am extremely happy to have seen this unique Kurosawa film and to have it as part of my DVD library. I had never seen it before.

Scandal - the Criterion vaults ahead of the interlaced MoC effort in terms of overall image quality and it also shows more information in all four sides of the frame. The Criterion displays a bit more damage and a more faded greyscale - the MoC has some decent supplements and rich, although possibly boosted, black levels. Criterion's trump card her is value as the price and inclusion of four other Kurosawa films in the boxset points purchasers strongly in their favor.

The Idiot - There seems to be very little difference in the two editions (Criterion and MoC) - and both are NTSC. The Criterion shows a few more speckles but overall I would say the image is a virtual tie but again Masters of Cinema have embellished their package with some good extra features. There are subtle differences in subtitle translation but nothing I could definitely give one an edge over the other - perhaps the Criterion is a bit more literal. For value via price - Criterion again seems to be the package to own.

I Live in Fear - the biggest differences between the older BFI and this new Criterion transfer is that the PAL edition is single-layered and shows more digital artifacts due to inferior compression. They both look fairly strong image-wise and I was impressed with how the Criterion presents the film. They essentially display the same damage marks so we can assume the transfer source is identical. The BFI, like the MoC's, is presently exorbitantly priced (approaching the entire Eclipse package!) and it make the Criterion effort a bona-fide no-brainer to own, and even upgrade if you are in that position.
  

Bitrates are very strong ranging in the high 8's for all except The Idiot (languishing at 5.54 MBPS) for some reason.

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover) there are no supplements. 

The sound is all original Japanese mono and dialogue is clear and quite audible - I noted a couple of instances of pops and drop-outs, but overall it is acceptable considering the age and condition of the films.

To get dual-layered DVD transfers of these masterwork films so competently rendered at a purchase price of less than $10 each is indeed a fabulous bargain. Eclipse are making some important films affordable and accessible to vast audiences that have never been exposed to them previously. We continue to encourage them in this wonderful project. Strongly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze




DVD Menus



Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

No Regrets For Our Yoth (1946) aka 'Waga seishun ni kuinashi'

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

One Wonderful Sunday (1947) aka 'Subarashiki nichiyobi '


Directed by Akira Kurosawa

 

Subtitle Sample


 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Scandal (1950) aka 'Shubun - Sukyandaru'


Directed by Akira Kurosawa

 

 

Subtitle Sample

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM - reviewed HERE)

 

NOTE: Subtitle sample is not same frame (but pretty darn close!)

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM - reviewed HERE)

 

 

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM - reviewed HERE)

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

The Idiot (1951) aka 'Hakuchi'


Directed by Akira Kurosawa

 

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM reviewed HERE)

 

NOTE: Subtitle sample is not same frame (but pretty darn close!)

 

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM reviewed HERE)

 

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM reviewed HERE)

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

I Live in Fear (1955) aka 'Ikimono no kiroku" I Live In Fear: Record of a Living Being" or "Record of a Living Being" or "What the Birds Knew"
 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa 

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM reviewed HERE)

 

NOTE: Subtitle sample is not same frame.

 

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM reviewed HERE)

 

 

(Eclipse #7 (Postwar Kurosawa) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM reviewed HERE)

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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