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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Peter Greenaway
Netherlands/UK/France/Luxembourg 1996

 

Inspired by Sei Shonagon’s first-century diary, Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book is an audio-visual tour de force, and a showcase for one of British cinema’s most singular talents. Starring Vivian Wu (8˝ Women), Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting) and Ken Ogata (Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters), the film is among Greenaway’s most daring and adventurous works.

***

"I am certain that there are two things in life which are dependable: the delights of the flesh, and the delights of literature. I have had the good fortune to enjoy them both equally," said Sei Shōnagon in The Pillow Book, a book of observations, lists, and "things that make the heart beat faster" written in the tenth century in the court of Empress Consort Teishi. A certain "concatenations of sex and text" forms the basis of Peter Greenaway's museum installation-ready multi-media work THE PILLOW BOOK. At the age of four, Nagiko (Vivian Wu, THE LAST EMPEROR) witnessed her calligrapher father (Ken Ogata, VENGEANCE IS MINE) and his publisher (Yoshi Oida) in a compromising position; the nature of which (both physical and the situational context) she would not understand until years later. This event combined with her father's practice of celebrating her birthday by inscribing her name on her face and his own on the back of her neck (an enactment of the story of God creating humanity as clay dolls, naming them, and signing the ones that met with approval to bring them to life) and her Chinese mother's nightly reading to her of The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon lead her years later to seek out lovers who reminded her of "the pleasures of calligraphy." Escaping her marriage from a boorish sportsman (Ken Mitsuishi, AUDITION) and fleeing to Hong Kong - where she becomes a fashion model - her search is frustrated by the inability to find a partner who is both a brilliant artist and good lover (as well as her own uncertainty about which quality she actually favors).

Nagiko dismisses translator Jerome (Ewan McGregor, SHALLOW GRAVE - who regales her with the stories of books he has yet to write - as a "scribbler" but is spurned by his request that she teach him to use his body "like the pages of a book" to try a hand at being both pen and paper. When Hoki (Yutaka Honda), a photographer suffering from his obsession for her since she finds his flesh unsatisfactory for writing, encourages her to send her writing to a publisher, she is dispirited when the work (photographs of her writings on her own body and those of strangers) is judged as "not worth the paper it is printed on." When discovers that the publisher was her father's publisher, and that his new lover is Jerome, she seduces the younger man and manipulates him into offering up his body as messenger onto which she will inscribe thirteen books for "the publisher that rejected you but who loves me" (a sacrifice not without pleasure for him). She writes on him the first book "The Book of the Agenda" and the plan proves successful; but Nagiko grows jealous when Jerome does not return to her and "writes" the next four books on a series of increasingly vulgar strangers with increasingly bitter content; and her mission to avenge her father's memory takes a different turn when the publisher desecrates her lover in more ways than one.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 6 June 1997 (USA)

Reviews                                                                   More Reviews                                                                 DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

   

 

 

 

Distribution

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Film Movement
Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Indicator
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:00:56 (4% PAL speedup) 2:06:29.582 2:06:24.118
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 38,016,618,130 bytes

Feature Size: 34,430,730,240 bytes

Total Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Disc Size: 39,520,686,158 bytes

Feature Size: 32,293,881,408 bytes

Total Bitrate: 29.96 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

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

Bitrate:

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

Film Movement Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

 

Indicator Blu-ray

 

Audio Japanese/Chinese/English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English (burnt-in) English (burnt-in) English (burnt-in for calligraphy), English (SDH), none (for other)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
 Canadian Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:40)

DVD Release Date: 15 December 2008
Amaray

Chapters 28
 

Release Information:
Studio: Film Movement

Aspect Ratio:- 1.33:1

Disc Size: 38,016,618,130 bytes

Feature Size: 34,430,730,240 bytes

Total Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
 Audio Commentary by director Peter Greenaway (38:13)
 Theatrical Trailer (2:05)
 Film Movement Trailers
 Liner Notes Booklet by Film Comment's Nicolas Rapold
 

Blu-ray Release Date: June 9th, 2015
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Indicator

Aspect Ratio:- 1.33:1

Disc Size: 39,520,686,158 bytes

Feature Size: 32,293,881,408 bytes

Total Bitrate: 29.96 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
 Selected scenes commentary with Peter Greenaway (2015)
 The Book of the Editor (2020): new interview with editor Chris Wyatt (26:20)
 Rosa (1992): performance film by Anne Teresa De Keersmaker’s Rosas dance company, directed by Peter Greenaway and shot by Sacha Vierny, presented in a new restoration from the original negative (15:50)
 Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
 Theatrical trailer (1:57)
 Original theatrical calligraphic subtitle presentation
 New English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
 Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Adam Scovell, Peter Greenaway on The Pillow Book, excerpts from Greenaway’s 26 Facts About Flesh and Ink and the original press book, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Anthony Nield on Rosa, and film credits
Limited edition of 3,000 copies
 

Blu-ray Release Date: February 24th, 2020
Transparent
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 14

 

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray January 2020: To no  one surprise, Indicator have done Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book up right by including the original calligraphy subtitles (as well as optional subtitles for other dialogue - see samples). The image quality also improves with richer deeper colors (reds). Another notch ahead in improvement.

Audio is also linear PCM... in two-channel stereo. There is a real cornucopia of music selections in The Pillow Book from Buddhist Lamas & Monks, traditional Japanese to U2 and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It sounds authentically flat and clear. There are optional (SDH) subtitles for the dialogue and the original calligraphy for the text screens. This Indicator Blu-ray is Region FREE.

Indicator include the 38-minutes of select-scene commentary by director Greenaway, from 2015, where he discusses a variety of topics from the death of celluloid film and editing to his fascination with Japanese culture. The Book of the Editor is a new 27-minute interview with editor Chris Wyatt who has worked with Greenaway for decades and has an interesting perspective on the man's body of work. Rosa (1992) is a 1/4 hour performance film by Anne Teresa De Keersmaker’s Rosas dance company, directed by Peter Greenaway and shot by Sacha Vierny, presented in a new restoration from the original negative . It stars Nordine Beuchorf and Fumiyo Ikeda and is in Dutch with English subtitles. There is an image gallery of on-set and promotional photography, a theatrical trailer and the package has a limited edition (3,000 copies) exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Adam Scovell, Peter Greenaway on The Pillow Book, excerpts from Greenaway’s 26 Facts About Flesh and Ink and the original press book, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Anthony Nield on Rosa, and film credits.

The director's fans should snap this Indicator Blu-ray up - another unique, and visually memorable film from Greenaway. easily the best package for the film. Strongly Recommended!

***

ADDITION: Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray June 15': Film Movement's 1080P transfer of Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book remains, like the DVD, transferred in 1.33:1 but the image quality is a massive improvement over the artifact-ridden and interlaced DVD. Colors, notably skin-tones, alter, cool and tighten as does the detail rise beyond the softness of the SD. There is even some depth in the color sequences. It looks decent enough in-motion with no speckles or damage and I'd have to say that fans should be very pleased in regards to comparing it to the lackluster DVD that did not do The Pillow Book's visuals justice at all.

Audio is lossless via a linear PCM track.  It sounds clean - but lacking depth - once again, significantly superior to the DVD. There are burned-in subtitles (see sample below) of a more standard font than the SD.

Greenaway's new commentary actually only accompanies the first thirty-eight minutes of the film. He traces the origins of the project in his fascination with calligraphy and Eastern art in contrast to Western art's distinction between text and image. Although he mounted it as a homage to his own interest in Japanese culture, he feels that it met with a mixed reception from Japanese audiences because of critical fixation on his errors regarding the cultural minutia. He also discusses the post-production in Japan and his own admiration for the digital revolution (and his desire to remake the film using all digital technology). Besides the film's trailer and trailers for other Film Movement titles, the release also includes a short but handsomely-illustrated booklet by Film Comment's Nicolas Rapold on the film.

 - Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze

 


Menus
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC
 

Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Indicator (optional subtitle)- Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Indicator (calligraphy subtitle)- Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Subtitle Sample - Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Film Movement - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


  

Report Card:

 

Image:

Indicator Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Indicator Blu-ray
 
Box Covers

 

   

 

 

 

Distribution

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Film Movement
Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Indicator
Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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