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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "The Quiet Duel" or "Shizukanaru ketto" or "A Silent Duel")


Japan 1949


Jumbled and jagged, Akira Kurosawa's adolescent efforts grapple obsessively with regeneration in a society struggling to piece itself back together, and it's no accident the idea of healing pops up regularly -- razed-out postwar Japan is the perfect playground for the director's grudging humanism, though the same medical interest also makes a mid-career appearance later in the 19th-century scroll of Red Beard. Here, however, Toshiro Mifune is the idealist half of the duo, a callow doctor first seen at the operation table in 1944, a surgery all but thwarted by exhaustion, leaky roofs, power shortages and assorted rudimentary resources. Flash forward two years, and Mifune, now settled in a modestly stagy clinic, gives longtime fiancée Miki Sanjo the cold shoulder. The duel is a moral one, and the film abounds in images of isolation, characters' backs helplessly turned, people sitting side by side on a sofa with an abyss seemingly separating them. "Does war change people so much," Sanjo wonders plaintively to Takashi Shimura, surgeon-father and Kurosawa's go-to guy for mentor figures, but even he is unaware of his son's wartime secret. Accidentally dabbing into a patient's DV-infested blood, Mifune comes home syphilic but innocent, his purity intact despite the sullying grounds he was forced to tread -- a parable for Japan's collective conscience, coming off a lost, dirty war? In any case, the doc's haloed diligence soothes the misery of those around him, particularly dancer-turned-nurse Noriko Sengoku, who swings from nihilist almost-hooker to loving young mother upon getting wind of his sacrifice; such saintliness can be a pain, though, and Kurosawa stages a suffocatingly clumsy 5-minute take around the hero's tear-lubricated meltdown that locates the contemporary anxiety scarcely spotted behind Mifune's copyrighted badass grunting.

Excerpt from Cinepassion.org located HERE


Theatrical Release: 13 March 1949 (Japan)

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DVD Review: Ronin Entertainment, BCI Eclipse (The Directors Series) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Ronin Entertainment, BCI Eclipse

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:34:27

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.50 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

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


Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Ronin Entertainment, BCI Eclipse

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Original Japanese theatrical trailer (2:09)
• News Reel from the set of the movie (2:09)
• Interviews with cinematographer Setsuo Kobayashi, actress Miki Sanjo and composer Akira Ifukube (46:38)
• Photo Gallery (33 images)
• Liner notes by Stuart Galbraith IV

DVD Release Date: September 19th, 2006

Chapters 12




Somehow, this early Kurosawa film slipped through Criterion's hands, but it gets a release from Ronin Entertainment and BCI Eclipse. In Criterion's hands this film probably would have been included in recent Postwar Kurosawa Collection from Eclipse HERE, but now we get some nice features including interviews, trailers and informative liner notes from Stuart Galbraith IV.

Unfortunately, the image and audio are not pristine, but decent enough to warrant our recommendation. There are some audio pops and drop outs. The biggest drawback is that the image is not progressive, but we still recommend this rare Kurosawa film.

 - Gregory Meshman

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Ronin Entertainment, BCI Eclipse

Region 1 - NTSC




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