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(aka 'Chikamatsu Monogatari / Uwasa no Onna')

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan 1954

 

A sublime, perfectly modulated story of doomed love between a merchant's wife and a servant, set in 17th-century Japan and drawn from the repertory of Japan's puppet theater, the Bunraku. Kenji Mizoguchi's 1954 film has the most imaginative sound track of any of his films, and while the story lacks the awesome power of his Ugetsu and Sansho the Bailiff (both made during the same period), it still remains essential viewing.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr - The Chicago Reader located HERE

 

Based on a centuries old tale with roots in real events, Chikamatsu Monogatari [A Tale From Chikamatsu, aka The Crucified Lovers] tells the hauntingly tragic story of a forbidden love affair between a merchant's wife, Osan (Kyoko Kagawa), and her husband's employee, Mohei (Kazuo Hasegawa), in an era when the punishment for adultery was crucifixion. When a series of innocent events lead to the false accusation of an affair between Osan and Mohei, the accused pair are forced to flee an almost certain death sentence. On the run, the outlaw couple grow closer together, drawn inexorably towards the romantic crime of which they are accused. In the hands of Mizoguchi, Chikamatsu Monogatari depicts two people caught up in a constricted world where true love and social obligation are at odds. His portrayal of the lovers' dilemma lead famed director Akira Kurosawa to describe the film as "a great masterpiece that could only have been made by Mizoguchi." Released the same year, Uwasa no Onna [The Woman in the Rumour] offers a contrasting portrait of attitudes and mores concerning love and relationships. Set in a modern Kyoto geisha house, the eponymous woman in the rumour is Hatsuko (Kinuyo Tanaka, star of countless Mizoguchi films, in her last role for the director with whom she was often romantically linked), madame of her own geisha house. When Hatsuko ends up pursuing the same man as her daughter, Yukiko (Yoshiko Kuga), both women are forced to confront their attitudes towards each other and the family business. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present these films for the first time on home video in the UK. SPECIAL FEATURES: 2 x disc special edition containing new film restorations of both films, New and improved English subtitles, Video discussions about both Chikamatsu Monogatari and Uwasa no Onna by acclaimed Japanese film expert/critic, festival programmer, and filmmaker Tony Rayns, Original theatrical trailers, 56-page booklet featuring writing by Keiko I. McDonald (author of Mizoguchi) and Mark Le Fanu (author of Mizoguchi and Japan), as well as extracts from Chikamatsu Monzaemon's 'The Almanac of Love' and Ihara Saikaku's 'What the Seasons Brought to the Almanac-Maker', texts adapted by Mizoguchi in Chikamatsu Monogatari.

Excerpt of product description at Amazon.UK located HERE

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Comparison:

Eureka 'Masters of Cinema' - Region 2 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  LEFT

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution Eureka 'Masters of Cinema' Spine #''s 56 + 57 - Region 2 - NTSC

Masters of Cinema - Spine #58 +59

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:42:09 + 1:23:54  1:41:49.686 + 1:23:36.219
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.64 + 8.84 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.64 + 8.84 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chikamatsu monogatari

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,361,410,384 bytes

Feature: 25,021,523,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.94 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Uwasa No Onna

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,361,410,384 bytes

Feature: 20,583,091,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

 Chikamatsu monogatari

Bitrate:

Chikamatsu monogatari Blu-ray

Bitrate:

 Uwasa No Onna

Bitrate:

 Uwasa No Onna Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital mono)  LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka - Masters of Cinema

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Video discussions on both films by Tony Rayns (13:17, 12:40)
• Original Japanese trailers + teaser (interlaced)
• 56-page liner notes booklet with photos and essays by Ihara Saikaku and Keiko I. McDonald

DVD Release Date: February 25th, 200
8
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 16 + 12

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka - Masters of Cinema

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Video discussions on both films by Tony Rayns (13:17, 12:40)
• Original Japanese trailers + teaser (interlaced)
• 56-page liner notes booklet with photos and essays by Ihara Saikaku and Keiko I. McDonald

Blu-ray Release Date: October 28th, 2013
Custom
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 16 + 12

 

Comments:

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

 

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray (October 2013): Firstly, these two films in 1080P, Chikamatsu Monogatari and Uwasa no Onna, along with the Blu-ray of Akasen Chitai and Y˘kihi are only available, at present, in Masters of Cinema's Late Mizoguchi package which also contains, the previously released, Oyu-sama (1951), Ugetsu monogatari, (1953), Gion bayashi (1953), and Sansho dayu (1954) on Blu-ray.

 

Repeating what we said about the Blu-ray of Akasen Chitai and Y˘kihi; There isn't too much to add - the new Blu-ray transfers are improved in visual and sound area over the 5 year old SD treatments. They are brighter, better contrast, more grain, less artifacts, more detail and are supported with strong bitrates. The static screen captures bear that out. Because of the higher resolution the light damage is a shade more noticeable - but that is only because all detail is. It has the same subtitles and extras listed below (Tony Rayns video discussions, booklets etc.) and the beauty of these films really shines through via the HD presentations. These films are timeless and serious cinephiles shouldn't pass these up. I will own these for the rest of my life.    

***

ON THE DVD Yet another magnificent package from our friends at Masters of Cinema. We have two Kenji Mizoguchi films, each on their own dual-layered DVD - and each is transferred progressively with optional English subtitles. They are coded for region 2 in the NTSC standard. Both classic Japanese films look marvelous with very high bitrates. Image quality appears exceptionally strong although very light scratches and speckles can be seen. They appear limited to individual frames and, when in motion, are virtually imperceptible in the human eye. What results are some minor aberrations including some contrast flickering but comparatively speaking these are right up there with Criterion-level achievements considering both, the age of the films, and the usual poor condition of classic Japanese source material. I didn't note any digital manipulation, as in black-level or brightness boosting, but if it was done - it is discreet enough to only improve the overall presentation with a small notch up in sharpness. I was not expecting these transfers to looks so good - they are wonderful! I am thrilled.  

There is original Japanese mono audio for both films and sounds quite clear with only a few unremarkable inconsistencies not worth discussing here. There are optional English subtitles in a slightly large font - clear, visible and without undue gaps of translation.

Supplements include short, but educational, video discussions on both films by Tony Rayns (running respectively 13:17 and12:40), original, interlaced, Japanese trailers + a teaser (for Chikamatsu Monogatari). Most impressive is the 56-page liner notes booklet with photos and essays by Ihara Saikaku and Keiko I. McDonald. This package is just about as perfect as any Mizoguchi, or Japanese cinema fan could have ever hoped for and it get our highest recommendation. More good news is that Masters of Cinema have plans for further Mizoguchi releases this year - truly the greatest time to be a film fan. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus - Chikamatsu Monogatari


 

DVD Menus - Uwasa no Onna


 

Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 


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Chikamatsu Monogatari

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


Uwasa no Onna

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC  TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Bonus Blu-ray Capture


Box Cover

Distribution Eureka 'Masters of Cinema' Spine #''s 56 + 57 - Region 2 - NTSC

Masters of Cinema - Spine #58 +59

Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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