(aka "The Heart")

Directed by Kon Ichikawa

Japan 1955

 

Brimful with brooding psychological torment, Kokoro is vintage Kon Ichikawa (An Actor's Revenge, The Burmese Harp, Tokyo Olympiad). Based on a novel by celebrated Japanese author Natsume Soseki, the director foregrounds its themes of individual isolation and social estrangement, most notably in a central protagonist stricken by existential demons and stranded by changing times.

Why does Nobuchi (Masayuki Mori) visit the grave of his old friend Kaji (Tatsuya Mihashi)? Why is he so secretive with his wife Shizu (Michiyo Aratama)? And how does Nobuchi's friendship with the young student Hioki (Shoji Yasui) – for whom the older man acts as reluctant sensei – relate to his time with Kaji? As the Meiji Era draws to a close with the emperor's death and the suicide of General Nogi, a fateful tale of tainted love, failed friendship, and redemptive honour unravels with tragic consequences.

Though sometimes overlooked in the director's impressive oeuvre, Ichikawa's profoundly beautiful rendering of Soseki's novel is a considerable work of cinema in its own right. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Kokoro for home viewing in the UK for the very first time.

Theatrical Release: April 4th, 1955

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DVD Review: Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

    

Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 67

Region 2 - NTSC

Runtime 1:20:46
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
Audio Mono Dolby Digital Japanese
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema)

Aspect Ratio:
 - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• A lavish 48-page booklet with archival publicity stills, a newly written essay by Tony Rayns (critic and curator of East Asian cinemas), and an extended interview with Kon Ichikawa by Yuki Mori (The Films of Kon Ichikawa) on the "Beginnings" of the director's involvement in cinema.

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2009
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Chapters 20

 

Comments NOTE: DVDBeaver's UK correspondent for MoC, Henry Kedger, is continuing his reviewing and we are appreciative. He has sent us some captures and comments below for Spine # 67 Kokoro.

Gary Tooze

***

Firstly, thank to Masters of Cinema for their screener and Gary for allowing me to review it here at DVDBeaver. I am quite honored.

This is single-layered one-disc offering but the image quality was nonetheless impressive. As Japanese film are a notorious weaker standard of storage for vintage original and prints my expectations were tempered for this visual quality of Kokoro. I found sharpness and contrast both at a high standard. The image quality was as one might expect from a Masters of Cinema release - stated as 'restored HD transfer from original negative'. It does certainly appear to have been restored and there is no damage to speak of. Accentuating the fine transfer is are some powerful and beautiful compositions. The DVD is in the NTSC standard and represents Ichikawa's film with strong conviction. There are optional English subtitles and original mono Japanese audio.

 

I received  the 40-page liner notes booklet, as a lo-res pdf (with my pressed 'checkdisc') and found it to be a typical MoC offering - ie. it is of excellent quality containing archival publicity stills, a newly written essay by Tony Rayns (critic and curator of East Asian cinemas,) and an extended interview with Kon Ichikawa by Yuki Mori (author of The Films of Kon Ichikawa - which, I regret, is not part of my film book library) on the "Beginnings" of the director's involvement in cinema.

It's a interesting film, and I'm incredibly grateful to MoC for continuously concentrating on this kind hard-to-find work. I did a quick rehash of Kon Ichikawa's work that I have seen and its a mere drop-in-the-bucket compared to his diverse oeuvre of almost 90 films over 7 decades. On DVD I own Fires on the Plain, Olympiad Tokyo, the 94' version of 47 Ronin, An Actor's Revenge and The Burmese Harp. These films are all meticulously constructed with confident pacing. I can find no modern director to compare Ichikawa to and his death last year, in February 2008, marks the end of another era of important cinema with his efforts specifically covering an incredibly wide spectrum. Kokoro is another Masters of Cinema DVD that has a valued place in my collection. I'm getting on in years and can't be traveling to retrospectives and festivals across the globe anymore so this makes me appreciate Masters of Cinema's commitments to film fans like myself even more essential.

Henry Kedger

 



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DVD Box Cover

    

Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 67

Region 2 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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