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The Complete Existing Films of Sadao Yamanaka

 

Sazen Tange and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo (1935)        Priest of Darkness (1936)

Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937)

 

The brief but prodigious career of Japanese director Sadao Yamanaka resulted in a catalogue of work characterised by an elegant and unforced visual style, fluid editing, and a beautiful attention to naturalistic performances. Although he made 22 films over a six - year period (before dying of dysentery in a Japanese Imperial Army outpost in Manchuria at the age of 28), only three of them survive, collected here for the first time in the West.

Tange Sazen: The Million Ry˘ Pot is a gloriously comic adventure yarn as the titular one - eyed, one - armed swordsman becomes embroiled in the hunt for a missing pot that points the way to hidden treasure. In K˘chiyama S˘shun, a subversively humanistic adaptation of a classic kabuki play, a small but invaluable knife stolen from a samurai leads to a chain of an increasingly complex and troublesome set of circumstances. His last film, Humanity and Paper Balloons, is an unsparing ensemble drama set among the lowest rungs of Japanese society in the 18th century.

The Masters of Cinema Series is delighted to present these treasures of world cinema in a long - awaited two - disc DVD set, including rarely - seen fragments of two other lost Yamanaka films.


(aka "Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakuman ryo no tsubo" or "Sazen Tange and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo")

 

directed by Sadao Yamanaka
Japan 1935

 

Lord Yagyu learns that one of his ancestors buried a million ryu - set aside for unforeseen military expenses - and painted a map of its location on a tea pot that has since become an unsightly family heirloom. Unfortunately, Yagyu has given this pot to his younger brother Lord Genzaburo (Kunitaro Sawamura, GATE OF HELL) who planned to give it as a gift to his father-in-law (but his wife detests it). Yagyu ddvises a way to trick Genzaburo into giving it back, but - resentful of his older brother's treatment of him - Genzaburo refuses and tells his wife to sell it to the scrap dealer instead. When he learns the significance of the pot, Genzaburo at his wife's urging ostensibly scours the city of Edo in search of the pot but ends up frequenting the teahouse of Ogino (Ranko Hanai, SHANGHAI) and one-eyed, one-armed samurai Tange Sazen (Denjir˘ ďk˘chi, THE MEN WHO TREAD ON THE TIGER'S TAIL) who have reluctantly taken in orphaned Yasu whose only friends are a the goldfish he carries in the pot given to him by the scrap dealer. As the cast of characters run around in circles looking for and just missing the pot, the better and worse characteristics of each are revealed.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 15 June 1935 (Japan)

Reviews                     More Reviews                  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Y) - Region 2 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Region 2 - NTSC

Runtime 1:31:30
Video

1.26:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.96 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

Audio Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.26:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• 'Tange Sazen' Extended Scene (4:3; 2:05)
• 2nd Feature: 'Kochiyama Soshun' (4:3; 1:21:21)
• DISC TWO:
• 3rd Feature: 'Humanity and Paper Balloons' (4:3; 1:25:39)
• Two Fragments from lost Yamanaka films (4:3; 5:02)
• Tony Rayns (4:3; 23:32)
• A lengthy booklet, including Yamanaka's will, excerpts from his diaries, essays by Tony Rayns,
• Shinji Aoyama, Kimitoshi Sat˘, and more

DVD Release Date: May 20th, 2013
Amaray

Chapters 8

 

Comments

The image is very clean apart from some faint white vertical scratches, rare missing frames, occasional image trembling, and shaky splices; but it looks on par with some of the better restorations from this period. The aged Westrex Electric Noisess Recording is, of course, no longer noiseless, but Masters of Cinema have done their best cleaning it up on the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. The optional English subtitles are error free. The only related extra is labeled as an "extended scene" that is actually an unused extension of a scene from the film wound up appearing in the trailer (trailers prepared during the editing process sometimes feature alternate takes and unused scenes). This short bit is presented in context, but even if it had been presented on its own the quality difference would have been painfully apparent (the audio for the trailer was not preserved, and additional fragments from the trailer in the same condition are presented afterward).

The 23 page booklet includes a brief essay on Yamanaka’s surviving films and his early death, a humor piece by Yamanaka “Diary of an Idle Man” written in response to the reaction of the author of the ‘Tange Sazen’ novel over the changes made in Yamanaka’s film adaptation, as well as an essay on HUMANITY AND PAPER BALLOONS by Tony Rayns (presumably the same one that appeared in the booklet for the original MoC disc of that film), a piece by Kimitoshi Sato about Yamanaka’s better-known contemporary Ozu and his recollections of his friendship with the director, and a reprint of Yamanaka last will and testament.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
 

 


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(aka "Priest of Darkness" )

 

directed by Sadao Yamanaka
Japan 1936

 

Despite some comic elements, Sadao Yamanaka's KOCHIYAMA SOSHUN - a screen adaptation of a famous Kabuki play - feels less like a traditional Japanese melodrama and more like a stab at film noir in a period setting. Sake seller Onami (Setsuko Hara, TOKYO STORY) worries that her younger brother Hirotaro is hanging with a bad crowd; indeed, he spends his nights at a brothel belonging to Oshizu and her confidence man husband Kochiyama Soshun (Ch˘jűr˘ Kawarasaki, THE 47 RONIN) who has taken the younger man under his wing (not realizing that he is the younger brother of the charming proprietor of the sake stand he frequents). When Hirotaro steals a small knife from samurai Kitamura, masterless samurai Kaneko (Kan'emon Nakamura, KWAIDAN) attempts to intervene on behalf of Onami; but she may need the help of both Kaneko and Kochiyama when Hirotaro elopes with a courtesan and her owner demands a hefty payment that may require Onami to sell herself in order to save her brother.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 30 April 1936 (Japan)

Reviews                       More Reviews                      DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Y) - Region 2 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Region 2 - NTSC

Runtime 1:21:21
Video

1.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.96 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.35:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• 1st Feature: 'Tange Sazen: The Million Ryo Pot' (4:3; 1:31:30)
• 'Tange Sazen' Extended Scene (4:3; 2:05)
• DISC TWO:
• 3rd Feature: 'Humanity and Paper Balloons' (4:3; 1:25:39)
• Two Fragments from lost Yamanaka films (4:3; 5:02)
• Tony Rayns (4:3; 23:32)
• A lengthy booklet, including Yamanaka's will, excerpts from his diaries, essays by Tony Rayns,
• Shinji Aoyama, Kimitoshi Sat˘, and more

DVD Release Date: May 20th, 2013
Amaray

Chapters 8

 

Comments

Although made a year later than TANGE SAZEN, KOCHIYAMA SOSHUN is in inferior condition with vertical scratches and sometimes bumpy splices being less distracting than the overall softness of the image (grain is preserved so it is likely the fault of the element). The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio sounds as if it has undergone some heavy digital clean-up, but the optional English subtitles are error-free and may also be of assistance to those viewers who are fluent in Japanese. There are no related extras for the film on disc 1.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menu
 

 


Screen Captures


Subtitle sample

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


(aka "Ninjo kami fusen" or "Ballad of the Paper Balloons")

 

directed by Sadao Yamanaka
Japan 1937

 

Widely regarded as Yamanaka's greatest achievement, Humanity and Paper Balloons [Ninjo kami fusen] was, tragically, his last film, and only one of three that survive today. In a short, six year, 22 film career Yamanaka quickly earned a reputation for exceptionally fluid editing and a beautiful visual form likened to the paintings of Japanese masters.

The story develops in the Tokugawa era of the 18th century, in a poor district of Tokyo, where impoverished samurai live from hand to mouth among equally poor people of lower social classes. One such ronin (masterless samurai) Matajuro, spends his day looking for work whilst his wife, Otaki, makes cheap paper balloons at home. One rainy night, Shinza, a barber, and equally penniless, impulsively abducts the daughter of a wealthy merchant, hiding her at Matajuro's home. Their desperate plan has grave consequences when a ransom attempt backfires. The film, which starts and ends with suicide, is deeply pessimistic, insisting that life in feudal Japan was hellish and short for those at the foot of the social ladder.

Humanity and Paper Balloons premiered the day Yamanaka was drafted to the frontline at the start of WWII. He died in Manchuria, 1938, aged just 29. Boasting naturalistic performances and fine ensemble playing (from the left-wing theatre troupe Zenshin-za).

Poster

Theatrical Release: 18 January 2003 (Japan)

Reviews                                   More Reviews                                DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC

 Big thanks to Gary Tooze and Eric Cotenas for the Screen Caps!

(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Region 2 - PAL

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video
Region 2 - NTSC
Runtime 1:22:33 (4% PAL speedup) 1:25:39
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.98 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.6 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:

 

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

 

Bitrate:

 

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Y)

 

Audio Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 mono

Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Subtitles English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Production Stills Gallery
• 24-page booklet with excerpts from Yamanaka's diaries, new essays by Tony Rayns, Shinji Aoyama,
• Kimitoshi Sato; and a reprint of Yamanaka's will

DVD Release Date: 25 July 2005
Amaray

Chapters 16
 

Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• 1st Feature: 'Tange Sazen: The Million Ryo Pot' (4:3; 1:31:30)
• 'Tange Sazen' Extended Scene (4:3; 2:05)
• 2nd Feature: 'Kochiyama Soshun' (4:3; 1:21:21)
• DISC TWO:
• Two Fragments from lost Yamanaka films (4:3; 5:02)
• Tony Rayns (4:3; 23:32)
• A lengthy booklet, including Yamanaka's will, excerpts from his diaries, essays by Tony Rayns,
• Shinji Aoyama, Kimitoshi Sat˘, and more

 

DVD Release Date: 20 May 2013
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

Eureka Video previously released HUMANITY AND PAPER BALLOONS on DVD in 2005, back when their standard definition titles were encoded in the PAL standard. Disc 2 of the new Yamanaka set features a progressive NTSC encoding without the PAL speedup of the previous edition. They appear to come from the same source (note the rounded frame corners at the top), but the PAL version features a sliver of additional picture information on the bottom of the frame. Contrast is a shade lighter in the NTSC version. Presumably the subtitle translation is the same, since the ones on the 2005 edition were translated by critic Tony Rayns who contributes writing to the booklet of the 2005 version and a video interview in this newer edition.

The new disc drops the lengthy production stills gallery in favor a new video piece by Tony Rayns on the director (who died at age 28 while in military service in China) and his work in the context of his leftist leanings (utilizing historical settings so that his social commentary might elude the censors). Rayns also introduces the two fragments from the home movie 9.5mm format short versions of Yamanaka films. The first comes from Yamanaka's first film SLEEPING BY THE LONG SWORD and the second from the first part of the two-parter WHITE HOOD: THE MYSTERIOUS THIEF (featuring Denjir˘ ďk˘chi from TANGE SAZEN). The accompanying booklet was not supplied with review copies so we are unable to compare them, but fans who own the 2005 edition will probably want to grab this new set anyway because of the additional two films, the fragments, and the new Rayns extras.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanak) - Region 2 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video (The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka) - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Draw

Sound:

Draw

Extras: 2013 release

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Masters of Cinema/Eureka Video

Region 2 - NTSC

 

 




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