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AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa

 

Sanshiro Sugata (1943)      The Most Beautiful (1944)       Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (1945)
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945)      No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)       One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
Drunken Angel (1948)       Stray Dog (1949)       Scandal (1950)       Rashomon (1950)       The Idiot (1951)
Ikiru (1952)       Seven Samurai (1954)       I Live in Fear (1955)       Throne of Blood (1957)
The Lower Depths (1957)       The Hidden Fortress (1958)       The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Yojimbo (1961)       Sanjuro (1962)       High and Low (1963)       Red Beard (1965)
Dodes’ka-den (1970)       Kagemusha (1980)       Madadayo (1993)

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/kurosawa.htm

The creator of such timeless masterpieces as Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and High and Low, Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential and beloved filmmakers who ever lived—and for many the greatest artist the medium has known. Now, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth, the Criterion Collection is proud to present this deluxe box set celebrating his astonishing career. Featuring twenty-five of the films he made over the course of his fifty years in movies—from samurai epics to postwar noirs to Shakespeare adaptations—AK 100 is the most complete set of his works ever released in this country, and includes four rare films that have never been available on DVD.

Individual DVD package covers (in order)

CLICK to ACCESS Brief Film/DVD REVIEW OF EACH TITLE

The Idiot Ikiru Seven Samurai

 

ABOUT THIS REVIEW: As the AK 100 set is so large we will spread the review over 3 webpages. We will still use some of our standard comparison captures but in a limited way. As opposed to comparing 8 or 9 captures of each film of this 25-disc set - we will only utilize 2 or 3 - when necessary. Many of the earliest films - Sanshiro Sugata Parts one and two, The Most Beautiful (1944), The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945) - have only seen the digital light on very inferior transfers via Hong Kong DVDs from Mei-Ah with ridiculously poor subtitle translations or analog transfers (or interlaced ones from PAL distributors in Australia etc.). An English-friendly edition of Madadayo has also not be given justice on digital to date. As the DVDs in AK 100 are devoid of digital supplements - we will simply make a brief comment about the technical transfer. I've watched many from start to finish but, do to time constraints, haven't gone through them as thoroughly as we usually do for a single review or comparison. We feel it is more important to get this information out prior to the release date - so interested parties can take advantage of pre-order discounts or the extensive holiday sales.

Theatrical Releases: 1943 - 1993

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: AK 100 - Criterion Collection (25-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Audio Japanese (original)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

  •  Illustrated book featuring an introduction and notes on each of the films by Stephen Prince (The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa) and a remembrance by Donald Richie (The Films of Akira Kurosawa).


DVD Release Date: December 8th, 2009

Bookstyle flap cardboard case

 

Starting logos

 

Comments:

ACCESS REVIEW PAGE ONE or PAGE TWO.

Two years ago we had Ford at Fox - the gargantuan for 2007 and winner of DVD of the Year - then last year we were given the 2008 DVD of the Year - Murnau, Borazge & Fox. 2009 sees the reigns pass to Criterion for an end-of-year digital behemoth. The most remarkable distributor have their favorite - Akira Kurosawa with whom they have covered by far the most releases of any director in their impressive collection. His work is now honored with a magnificent 25 film boxset. 'Wow' is right.

The 25 main features of this boxset are housed in individual unfastened flap book-style cardboard cases inside a beautiful linen-bound box with an Illustrated hard cover book (see images below). These are advertised as 'all new transfers'.

Very encouragingly, NONE of the transfers are pictureboxed (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 all progressive and in the original aspect ratios. There are no digital supplements and each finish the last chapter with color bars. Audio is monaural, 2.0 channel stereo or in the case of High and Low 4.0 channel Perspecta Surround. Unless otherwise noted (ex. Kagemusha) each disc starts with a wonderful animated 'AK 100' logo followed by the animated Criterion and static Janus logos.

NOTE: In comparing running times - most from this boxset seem about 20 seconds shy of the original release times. While all use the NTSC standard, the logos are running in their own separate file outside the 'clock' of the film time - where as on the original DVD they may include the logos. This is noted in the bitrate graph drop down window where we can see a separate 19 or 20 second time period - these represent the AK 100, Criterion and Janus logos which run prior, and separately authored, to the feature film.

So, while new transfers - some look very similar to previous Criterion or Eclipse boxset releases - however, quite a few are different and may also be from alternate sources. We aren't privy to the details of the availability of prints used by Criterion as sources but can make good guesses if it was the same as the original releases by comparing captures and noting damage marks, framing and other details. To get exact screen capture matches - we move ahead one frame at a time looking for the same position of people, hands or other things that move OR we can also look for the same speckles and/or scratches. This will show if possibly the same source was used and more closely identify if it is a similar, or how similar the appearance is.

Public perception has altered quite a bit in the past few years and I believe this is a real positive. This is true for a few companies, like Criterion, who are aware of what their following are desirous of - and what they dislike in terms of transfers. I am referring to digital manipulation (also called 'restoration') where selective contrast adjustment can help remove the prevalence of damage marks and hopefully bring the film closer to its theatrical intent. This is the same thing that occurs with black level or color boosting - trying to increase sharpness or vibrancy of an older, faded print. Consumers at this high-end of film appreciation have become more aware of these visible alternations that leave telltale deficiencies ex.; brightness that limits scratches and damage marks may also removes detail from parts of the frame, like edge-enhancement from black level boosting, moiring and other unsavory artifacts.  Okay - so what I am suggesting is that most of these transfers seem devoid of digital tinkering to alter the perception toward the theatrical appearance. They seem very 'pure'. What that might mean is more grain, and more damage but a truer look and for those that inspect that closely a more film-like presentation on DVD or Blu-ray.

As one example - this may be true for a title in this collection like Rashomon. While it may not be a different print - it may have had less in the way of digitally covering-up of damage BUT grain visibility improves and it tends to look more textured akin to real film. This may also be true because the discs do not share the feature transfer with supplements - this can increase the bitrate for the feature. This is what many fans desire in the current climate of home theater expansion. Personally, I am less concerned with light damage than I am with obvious manipulation. From my inspection so far - I'd say these are less manipulated than some of the original releases.

The important releases for many are the ones new to Criterion - Sanshiro Sugata (1943), The Most Beautiful (1944), Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (1945), The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945) and Madadayo (1993). I suspect they are all the best DVD transfers of each of these 5 films in the entire world. I was especially keen to see Madadayo as it is one of my favorite Kurosawa works.

Also, Drunken Angel (1948), Seven Samurai (1954) and Dodes’ka-den (1970) are NOT pictureboxed as they were in their latest, or original Criterion release. This can be quite consequential for some individuals.

NOTE: We have one important issue with our Kagemusha comparison. We occasionally accept screen captures from individuals who are trying to support us and lighten our workload. We try our best to ensure that these utilize the same method as we have obtained in the past, for consistency, - BUT occasionally things slip by. Jacek Macias screen grabs from 2005, look to me, now, to have been set at a boosted setting ('Vivid' as opposed to 'Original'). We are attempting to verify this but our conclusions regarding the comparison from the AK100 colors to the Blu-ray are still very valid. Kagemusha on DVD in this boxset looks great.

The included book, 25 Films By Akira Kurosawa, is magnificent. Awkwardly long in size but fits appropriately in the linen-bound case - where, for me, it will continue to reside. It's about 90 pages with an 'intro' entitled Kurosawa at 100 - by Stephen Prince - then 2 pages with photos on each of the 25 films with notes again by Stephen Prince finishing with 4 pages by Donald Richie on 'Remembering Kurosawa'. It's a great keep sake and interesting reading.  

So - what do we have? 25 films by one of the most renowned directors of all time. Masterpiece after masterpiece - looking and sounding improved, as good as possible, or as existing previously competent on the SD-DVD format. FIVE NEW films transferred with Criterion's high standards - 3 more with pictureboxing removed and a handful looking a tad purer and more film-like. No commentaries or digital extras - no trinkets like replica Sanjuro sandals or a plastic Samurai sword included - so, it is bare-bones and reminiscent of the Eclipse sub-label. Will these all come out on Blu-ray next year? Highly unlikely - especially the five new titles. Will any of those five be released individually? Unknown - with nothing scheduled on the calendar at present.

Is it worth it? That is the big question. You tell me - at the current price it amounts to about $11 a film. Titles like Seven Samurai (NOT pictureboxed), IkiruHigh and Low, Yojimbo, Red Beard, Kagemusha, Stray Dog, The Hidden Fortress, The Bad Sleep Well, Throne of Blood, I Live in Fear, Madadayo, etc. etc. etc. Most individuals will look to see how many they already own and 'calculate' the value - which is fair enough. I'm extremely pleased with the set - maybe more so than Ford at Fox or Murnau, Borazge & Fox, but the decision essentially lies with your personal preference and film/DVD diet. I'm just here to tell you that it maintains Criterion's high standards with great transfers - so be fearless in your potential purchases. Let's hope this is an end-of-year trend with a new director, via Criterion, coming long next year. How about a Blu-ray set for Dec 2010 with the complete works of Antonioni, Bresson or Tarkovsky? Huh? I suppose, one can dream....

ACCESS REVIEW PAGE ONE or PAGE TWO.

Gary W. Tooze

 

Package

(CLICK to enlarge)

 

 



Sample DVD Menus



 

The Bad Sleep Well (1960) aka Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in director Akira Kurosawa’s scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect in exposing the corrupt boardrooms of postwar corporate Japan.

 

Title and Posters

 

Runtime 2:30:30 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.6 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. 2.35 aspect ratio. Monaural.  32 Chapters with color bars.

Looks exactly the same as the 2006 Criterion edition compared HERE.

 

Screen capture Samples
 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

(above compared HERE)

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

(above compared HERE)

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

Yojimbo (1961)

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
The incomparable Toshiro Mifune stars in Akira Kurosawa’s visually stunning and darkly comic Yojimbo (The Bodyguard). In order to rid a village of corruption, masterless samurai Sanjuro turns a range war between two evil clans to his own advantage. Remade both as A Fistful of Dollars and, more recently, Last Man Standing, this exhilarating gangster-Western remains one of the most influential and entertaining genre-twisters ever produced.

 

Title and Poster

 

Runtime 1:50:20 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.61 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. Anamorphic. 2.35 aspect ratio. Monaural sound. 27 Chapters with color bars.

I've left the complete side edge border in for the AK 100 captures to show the full extent but this looks, as far as I can tell, like the exact same transfer as the January 2007 Criterion edition.  Very clean, great contrast - probably the best it will look before eventually, and hopefully, moving to 1080P.

 

Screen capture Samples
 

1) Criterion (original)- Region 1 - NTSC TOP.

2) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC MIDDLE

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion (original)- Region 1 - NTSC TOP.

2) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC MIDDLE

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion (original)- Region 1 - NTSC TOP.

2) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC MIDDLE

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

Sanjuro (1962) aka Tsubaki Sanjûrô

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
In Kurosawa’s sly companion piece to Yojimbo, the jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors weed out their clan’s evil influences, and in the process turns their image of a “proper” samurai on its ear.

 

Title and Poster

 

Runtime 1:35:24 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.66 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. Anamorphic. 2.35 aspect ratio. Monaural sound. 21 Chapters with color bars.

Looks, to me, like the exact same transfer as the Criterion REISSUE. I can't tell any differences with the A/V.

 

Screen capture Samples
 

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - REISSUE - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

High and Low (1963) aka Tengoku to jigoku

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa’s highly influential High and Low, a compelling race-against-time thriller and a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society.

 

Title and Poster

 

Runtime 2:23:05 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.40 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. Anamorphic. 2.35 aspect ratio. 4.0 channel Perspecta surround sound. 28 Chapters with color bars.

I'm going to have to take a closer look - but this AK 100 transfer may be marginally sharper than the Criterion REISSUE. It seems to have better detail and greyscale. It may be very miner but it is at the very least - as good as the reissue and sounds great in the 4.0 channel Perspecta.

 

Screen capture Samples
 

1) Criterion (2-disc REISSUE) Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Madman - Region 4 - PAL SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2- PAL THIRD

4) Criterion (original) - Region 0 - NTSC FOURTH

5) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC FIFTH

(above fully compared HERE)

6) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion (2-disc REISSUE) Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Madman - Region 4 - PAL SECOND

3) BFI - Region 2- PAL THIRD

4) Criterion (original) - Region 0 - NTSC FOURTH

5) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC FIFTH

(above fully compared HERE)

6) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

Red Beard (1965) aka Akahige

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
A testament to the goodness of humankind, Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director. Toshiro Mifune, in his last role for Kurosawa, gives a powerhouse performance as the dignified yet empathic director who guides his pupil to maturity, teaching the embittered intern to appreciate the lives of his destitute patients. Perfectly capturing the look and feel of 19th-century Japan, Kurosawa weaves a fascinating tapestry of time, place, and emotion.

 

Title and Poster

 

Runtime 3:04:42 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.36 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. Anamorphic. 2.35 aspect ratio. Stereo. 39 Chapters with color bars.

Apologies for the original DVD captures in 720 pixel width - they were done a long time ago to match the Mei Ah (we don't do that anymore). This looks like the same beautiful transfer as the original Criterion. Another favorite Kurosawa film.

 

Screen capture Samples
 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (original) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

(above fully compared HERE)

4) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (original) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

(above fully compared HERE)

4) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

Dodes’ka-den (1970)

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
"By turns tragic and transcendent, Akira Kurosawa’s film follows the daily lives of a group of people barely scraping by in a slum on the outskirts of Tokyo. Yet as desperate as their circumstances are, each of them—the homeless father and son envisioning their dream house; the young woman abused by her uncle; the boy who imagines himself a trolley conductor—finds reasons to carry on. The unforgettable Dodes’ka-den was made at a tumultuous moment in Kurosawa’s life. And all of his hopes, fears, and artistic passion are on fervent display in this, his gloriously shot first color film.”

 

Title and Poster

 

Runtime 2:19:35 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.39 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. 1.33 aspect ratio. Monaural. 30 Chapters with color bars.

It looks like the same HD transfer of the film used on the Criterion individual release from earlier this year (2009) but, one significant difference, it is NOT pictureboxed transferred - a strong plus for those who disliked the practice.

 

Screen capture Samples

1) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (original) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

(above fully compared HERE)

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM


 

1) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (original) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

(above fully compared HERE)

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

NOT EXACT FRAME MATCH

 

 

 

1) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (original) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

(above fully compared HERE)

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

Kagemusha (1980)

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
When a warlord dies, a peasant thief is called upon to impersonate him, and then finds himself haunted by the warlord’s spirit as well as his own ambitions. In his late, color masterpiece Kagemusha, Akira Kurosawa returns to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his career—the play between illusion and reality. Sumptuously reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and the pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a historical epic that is also a meditation on the nature of power.

 

Title and Poster

 

Runtime 3:00:06 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.50 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. Anamorphic.  1.85 aspect ratio. 32 Chapters with color bars. 2.0 channel stereo.

Starts with a 20th Century Fox logo. This new AK 100 DVD transfer looks more like the Blu-ray colors scheme than the blown-out 2-disc package (we are verifying Jacek Macias's screen captures).  Colors become more passive and realistic - it may not be up to the level of the Blu-ray but, me thinks, it's the best looking DVD of the film available.

 

Screen capture Samples
 

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
BOTTOM

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
BOTTOM

 


 

Madadayo (1993)

 

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
 
Kurosawa’s final film is a tribute to Hyakken Uchida (Tatsuo Matsmura), an educator and writer of enormously popular aphoristic stories. Based on Uchida’s writings, the film pieces a narrative together with distinct episodes—anecdotes and parties, ceremonies and celebrations.

 

Title and Poster

 

Runtime 2:14:04 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.5 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.

Bitrate:

Comments: Dual-layered. Progressive. Region 1. NTSC. Anamorphic. 1.85 aspect ratio. 2.0 channel stereo. 12 Chapters with color bars.

Quite possibly my favorite Kurosawa film - and as I stated in the comparison HERE. "I'd die a happy man if Criterion released this". Well, I'd like to stick around a bit longer but the AK 100 DVD shows that authentic Asian green - even more so than the Blu-ray (which also has it). The Criterion looks a bit thick with richer colors but both the Mei-Ah and Fox-Lorber DVDs are not even 16X9 enhanced and are filled with boosting, edge-enhancement and other problems. The Jesnet Blu-ray has NO English subtitles and I'm not crazy about the rounded corners showing (no projectionist worth his salt would allow this). Once again, we can sagely say that this Criterion version is the best DVD of the film in the world at this point and most desirable English-friendly edition in any format.

 

Screen capture Samples
 

1) Mei Ah Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Fox / Lorber  Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Jesnet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 (1, 2 + 4 compared HERE)


1) Mei Ah Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Fox / Lorber  Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Jesnet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 (1, 2 + 4 compared HERE)

1) Mei Ah Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Fox / Lorber  Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Jesnet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 (1, 2 + 4 compared HERE)

1) Mei Ah Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Fox / Lorber  Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) AK 100  - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Jesnet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 (1, 2 + 4 compared HERE)


After working in an extensive range of genres, Akira Kurosawa made his breakthrough film in 1950 with the technically perfect Rashomon. It won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival (Golden Lion), and first revealed the richness of Japanese cinema to the rest of the world. Heavily revered in the West, Kurosawa's films have always been more popular there than in his homeland of Japan. His native critics often view his adaptations of Western authors and genres (ex. Shakespearean plays in Feudal Japanese settings) with apprehension. Kurosawa was best know for his utilization of the mis-en-scene - taking advantage of the full widescreen scope to isolate characters and introduce extraneous detail. His films ranged from samurai action to touching dramas. Kurosawa worshipped American director John Ford, signifying him as his primary influence as a filmmaker. He is quoted as saying "For me, film-making combines everything. That's the reason I've made cinema my life's work. In films, painting and literature, theatre and music come together. But a film is still a film."

Suggested Reading

(click cover or title for more info)

The Films of Akira Kurosawa

by Donald Richie

Director - Feature filmography and DVDBeaver links:       Postwar Kurosawa Boxset (Eclipse #7)

Madadayo (1993), Rhapsody in August (1991), Dreams (1990), Ran (1985), Kagemusha (1980), Dersu Uzala (1975), Dodesukaden (1970), Red Beard (1965), High and Low (1963), Sanjûrô (1962), Yojimbo (1961), The Bad Sleep Well (1960), The Hidden Fortress (1958), Lower Depths (1957), Throne of Blood (1957), I Live in Fear (1955), Seven Samurai (1954), Ikiru (1952), The Idiot (1951), Rashômon (1950), Scandal (1950), The Quiet Duel (1949), Stray Dog (1949), Drunken Angel (1948), One Wonderful Sunday (1947), No Regrets for My Youth (1946), Zoku Sugata Sanshiro (1945), The Men Who Tread On the Tiger's Tail (1945), The Most Beautiful (1944)

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC


Recommended Reading for Kurosawa Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"





 

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