Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura

Pigs and Battleships (1962)     The Insect Woman (1963)      Intentions of Murder (1964)

 

 

In the 1960s, Japanese filmmakers responded to a stale studio system by looking for fresh ways to tell stories, and Shohei Imamura was one of the leading figures of this new wave. With the three films in this set—Pigs and Battleships, The Insect Woman, and Intentions of Murder—Imamura truly emerged as an auteur, bringing to his national cinema an anthropological eye and a previously unseen taste for the irreverent. Claiming his interests lay in “the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure,” Imamura dotted the decade with earthy, juicy, idiosyncratic films featuring persevering, willful heroines. His remains a unique cinematic voice.

Poster / Japanese DVD cover / Book

 

 

DVD Review:

 

Criterion - Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Covers

 

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 471 (individually #472-#474)
Region 1 - NTSC 
Runtime Respectively: 1:48:08 + 2:03:08 + 2:30:00
Bitrate:

 Pigs and Battleships

Bitrate:

The Insect Woman

Bitrate:

Intentions of Murder

Video

2.35:1 Aspect Ratio

Average Bitrate: 6.17 / 5.32 / 5.5  mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English, none

Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

 



Edition Details:
• Conversations between Shohei Imamura and critic Tadao Sato about The Insect Woman and Intentions of Murder
“Imamura, the Free Thinker,” a 1995 episode of the French television series Cinéma de notre temps
Interviews with renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns on all three films
PLUS: Booklets featuring essays by film critics Audie Bock, Dennis Lim, and James Quandt 
 

DVD Release Date: May 19th, 2009
Three standard transparent keep cases inside a cardboard box (see image above)

Chapters 20, 27, 25

 

Comments:

The Criterion package contains 3 dual-layered DVDs, progressively transferred, with anamorphic features - coded for region 1 in the NTSC standard. They are all in their original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and have mono Japanese audio. Visually - they are all similar and a small notch below past Criterion standard for image - looking slightly thicker, minutely hazier with imperfect contrast (a shade sepia/green and/or faded at times) than many may have been used to in recent years. I, of course, prefer this to digital boosting and manipulations that can become fairly easy to identify. For some reason I was reminded of, the now defunct and absorbed by Image Entertainment, Home Vision transfer efforts - good but not quite great. So while I might judge them as not escalating to Criterion's higher end appearance - they are all very watchable and supported the films quite adequately for memorable presentations.

 

Audio is mono, and unremarkable accepting for its consistency. There appear to be optional English subtitles for features and all extras.

 

Regarding the supplements - On Pigs and Battleships, Imamura the Freethinker is an hour long, 9-part, documentary about the career of Shohei Imamura, directed by Paolo Rocha, that was originally broadcast on the French television program Cinéma De Notre Temps in 1995. It was produced by audiovisuel multimedia international productions and Ina, institut national De L'audiovisuiel - it is in French with optional English subtitles. Also on the disc is the Tony Rayns interview segment on Pigs and Battleships recorded in December 2008. It runs just over 15 minutes. The liner notes booklet in that transparent keep case, with photos and an essay by film critics Audie Bock, is 16-pages. Insect Woman has a 20 minute interview with Imamura hosted by critic Tadao Sato - in Japanese with optional English subtitles. This disc includes another of the Rayn's interview segments - more specifically on Insect Woman and running shy of 15-minutes. The 16-page liner notes included with that case has more photos and an essay by Dennis Lim. On Intentions of Murder we get 24-minutes more of Imamura interviewed by Sato and a final segment with Rayns with this film in mind for almost 13-minutes - plus another 16-page booklet with an excellent essay by James Quandt.

 

Wow. Firstly, I think it's so very beneficial to have all three of these films included in one collection boxset to, hopefully, be viewed consecutively. I found they really grew on me - as I progressed through the set. Secondly, I think the interviews with Rayns are essential - I actually wish they were longer... or even commentaries. I'm very grateful this Imamura grouping isn't bare-bones being moved to the Eclipse sub-label. In closing, I absolutely loved these quasi-subversive films! I'm actually 'jones'ing' for more. I can see this getting a lot of votes for DVD package of the Year 2009 and despite some minor reservations about the image - this is a fabulous Criterion boxset that we whole-heartedly endorse. Fans of the director will definitely be ecstatic. 

Gary W. Tooze


(aka 'Buta to gunkan' or 'Hogs and Warships" or "Pigs and Battleships" or "The Flesh Is Hot')

directed by Shohei Imamura
Japan 196
1

A dazzling, unruly portrait of postwar Japan, Pigs and Battleships details, with escalating absurdity, the desperate power struggles between small-time gangsters in the port town of Yokosuka. The film is shot in gorgeously composed, bustling cinemascope.

Theatrical Release: 1961 - Japan

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(aka "Nippon konchuki" or "The Insect" or "The Insect Woman')

directed by Shohei Imamura
Japan 1963

Born in a rural farming village in 1918, Tomé survives decades of Japanese social upheaval, as well as abuse and servitude at the hands of various men. Yet Shohei Imamura, ever the cinematic “entomologist,” refuses to make a victim of her, instead observing Tomé (played by the extraordinary Sachiko Hidari) as a fascinating, pragmatic creature of twentieth-century Japan. A portrait of opportunism and resilience in three generations of women, The Insect Woman is Imamura’s most expansive film, and Tomé his ultimate heroine.

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(aka "Akai satsui" or "Intentions of Murder" or "Murderous Instincts" or "Unholy Desire")

directed by Shohei Imamura
Japan 1964

Sadako (Masumi Harukawa), cursed by generations before her and neglected by her common-law husband, falls prey to a brutal home intruder. But rather than become a victim, she forges a path to her own awakening. Intentions of Murder is gripping and audacious.

Theatrical Release: June 28th, 1964 - Japan

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DVD Box Covers

 

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 471 (individually #472-#474)
Region 1 - NTSC 

 

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Gary Tooze

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