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The Shohei Imamura Masterpiece Collection [Blu-ray]

 

Stolen Desire (1958)                                   Nishi Ginza Station (1958)                         Pigs and Battleships (1961)

 


The Insect Woman (1963)                                    A Man Vanishes (1967)                         Profound Desires of the Gods (1968)

 

 

Vengeance is Mine (1979)           The Ballad of Narayama (1983)

 

 

Vengeance is Mine - Based on the true story of Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) and his murderous rampage which sparked a 78-day nationwide manhunt, Shohei Imamura's disturbing gem Vengeance Is Mine won every major award in Japan on the year of its release. Both seducing and repelling with its unusual story and grisly humour, Imamura uncovers a seedy underbelly of civilised Japanese society. (Blu-ray & DVD)

The Ballad of Narayama - A vividly realised inverse image of ''civilised'' society, The Ballad of Narayama presents a bracingly unsentimental rumination on mortality and an engrossing study of a community's struggles against the natural elements. It is one of the legendary director's deepest, richest works (for which he won his first Palme D'or), and ranks among the finest films of its decade. (
Blu-ray & DVD)

Profound Desires of the Gods - The culmination of Imamura's extraordinary examinations of the fringes of Japanese society throughout the 1960s, Profound Desires of the Gods was an 18-month super-production which failed to make an impression at the time of its release, but has since risen in stature to become one of the most legendary albeit least seen Japanese films of recent decades. (
Blu-ray & DVD)

The Insect Woman - Comparing his heroine, Tome Matsuki (played by Sachiko Hidari, who won the ''Best Actress'' award at the 1964 Berlin Film Festival for the role) to the restlessness and survival instincts of worker insects, the film is an unsparing study of working-class female life. Beginning with Tome's birth in 1918, it follows her through five decades of social change, several improvised careers, and male-inflicted cruelty. (
Blu-ray & DVD)

Pigs & Battleships - Imamura finally answered his true calling as Japanese cinema's most dedicated and brilliant chronicler of society's underbelly with the astonishing Pigs and Battleships [Buta to gunkan]. A riotous portrait of sub-Yakuza gangsters battling for control of the local pork business in the U.S. Navy-occupied coastal town of Yokosuka, Imamura conjures a chaotic world of petty thugs, young love, tough-headed women, and underworld hypochondria, with one of the most unforgettable climaxes ever filmed. (
Blu-ray & DVD)

A Man Vanishes - Is it a documentary that turns into a fiction? A narrative film from beginning to end? A record of improvisation populated with actors or non-actors (and in what proportion)? Is it the investigation into a true disappearance, or a work merely inspired by actual events? Even at the conclusion of its final movement, A Man Vanishes [Ningen j˘hatsu] mirrors its subject in deflecting inquiries into the precise nature of its own being. (DVD only)

Also featuring Nishi-Ginza Station & Stolen Desire.

 

Pigs and Battleships [Blu-ray]

 

(Shohei Imamura, 1961)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Nikkatsu

Video: Masters of Cinema Spine # 21

 

Disc:

Region: 'B' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Pig and Battleships Runtime: 1:47:50.922

Stolen Desires Runtime: 1:32:16.572

Disc Size: 49,368,042,443 bytes

Pig and Battleships Size: 30,453,190,656 bytes

Stolen Desires Size: 18,870,650,880 bytes

Pig and Battleships Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Stolen Desires Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 19 / 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 27th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Pig and Battleships:

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 864 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 864 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)

Stolen Desires:

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 903 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 903 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps /
16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

Stolen Desire [Nusumareta yokuj˘]

Booklet featuring essays on both films by Tony Rayns and rare stills

Dual Format DVD of features included

 

Bitrate:

1) Pigs, and Battleships TOP
2) Stolen Desires BOTTOM

 

 

 

Description: 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.

***

With this, his fifth film, Sh˘hei Imamura finally answered his true calling as Japanese cinema's most dedicated and brilliant chronicler of society's underbelly with the astonishing Pigs and Battleships [Buta to gunkan]. A riotous portrait of sub-Yakuza gangsters battling for control of the local pork business in a U.S. Navy-occupied coastal town (Yokosuka), Imamura conjures a chaotic world of petty thugs, young love, tough-headed women, and underworld hypochondria, with one of the most unforgettable climaxes ever to grace the screen. Featuring dynamic black-and-white 'Scope cinematography, the director's typically sly sense of social commentary, and a host of outstanding performances (including Jitsuko Yoshimura from Onibaba), Pigs and Battleships immediately became a cornerstone of the Japanese New Wave and remains perhaps Imamura's most sheerly entertaining work. Pigs and Battleships is a much-loved, major classic of Japanese cinema, and part of the established canon along with Seven Samurai, Onibaba, Kwaidan, Ugetsu monogatari, and Tokyo Story, etc.

 

Also included Imamura’s 1958 rarely-seen debut feature, Stolen Desire [Nusumareta yokuj˘]:

 

Shohei Imamura's first feature (1958), shot in black-and-white 'Scope, deals with a form of working-class Kabuki that attracted him as a college student, but its story about an itinerant troupe performing a striptease version of the form near Osaka isn't very inspired. Nevertheless, Imamura characteristically finds some vitality in vulgarity—though his more prosaic working title, “Tent Theatre,” was rejected by the production company.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader located HERE

 

 

The Film:

In post-War Japan, drunk American soldiers flood the streets looking for prostitutes - meanwhile, the Japanese Yakuza is doing its own part to damage the honor of the country via the black market. Imamura does a fine job of not simply pointing the finger at the Americans, but also criticizing his own people, but the movie is also exhaustingly moral, slightly hysterical and awkwardly employs symbolic elements. That Imamura went from something as simple as this to significantly more nuanced works like Vengeance Is Mine and Dr. Akagi shows his growth.

Excerpt from The Cinematic Threads located HERE

 

Imamura's fifth film kicks off with hordes of uniformed American sailors running rampant through the neon lit streets of Yokosuka, and closes with a stampede of pigs doing much the same: a rather wonderful bracketing device pinpointing the twin poles of the slum town's economic life. Kinta (Nagato), like every other young punk in town, has his heart set on making a favourable impression with the gangsters, whose main racket involves exploiting the local pig trade. By contrast his girlfriend Haruko (Yoshimura) is one of the few women to think twice about prostituting herself to the steady influx of Yanks flush with money and booze. She wants them both to quit town while they can. Around this familiar set-up Imamura spins a hectic, furious portrait of a melting pot of deadend low-lives, which, with its restless tracking and panning shots, high contrast 'Scope photography and gothic secondary characters, recalls the corrupt, sweaty universe captured by Welles in Touch of Evil. Imamura plays fast and loose with the plotting (he likes his films 'messy'), but if some of the finer narrative details are opaque, the over-arching vision of life as a meat market is abundantly clear.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

For Pigs and Battleships the Masters of Cinema appears lighter than the Criterion rendition in their SD Boxset Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura. The Blu-ray contains a thick, heavy looking image that produces a clean and consistent presentation - one that I suspect is accurate to its theatrical roots.  The softness is probably a production factor but there is some notable detail in close-ups. This Blu-ray has an authentic film-like feel without any distinguishing black-marks. Sharing the disc is Imamura's debut feature via the Nikkatsu studio; Stolen Desires. It is less technically robust than the Pigs and Battleships transfer with a smaller bitrate and has some issues of compression. It is darker in comparison, but visually is shares a consistency that easily allows one to settle into the presentation. There is some contrast fluctuation but nothing that deterred my viewing experience. This worked for me as a cool Double-Bill. The image of both is not modern-era sharp - but it would be out of the ordinary if it was. I was very satisfied with the digital look of both films.

 

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

 

 

1) Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' -
Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' -
Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' -
Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' -
Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Stolen Desires

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The flatness of the audio reflects the original quality and both films have a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 864 kbps in Japanese to help accentuate its authenticity. It has no impressive qualities excepting that, like the video, it supplies a clean, consistent and reasonably trouble-free replication of the film's sound. Hence, there is no range or depth - and few instances in the films that would require it. There are professionally rendered optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region B-locked.

 

Extras :

Stolen Desires - as an extra - is a wonderful inclusion. Beyond that is a booklet featuring essays on both films by Tony Rayns and rare stills as well as being a Dual-Format Edition containing a separate disc SD-DVD of the two features.

 

1) Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' -
Blu-ray -
RIGHT

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Imamura's later films can playful and an acquired taste but the earlish Pigs and Battleships is certainly not dense and is highly accessible while still identifying the director's greatness with more readily obvious themes explored. It was a pleasure to see the even older Stolen Desires - an important debut feature. I think this definitely escalates the value of the Blu-ray package. Along with the simultaneously released Coeur Fidele from the MoC gang - I realize how invaluable a region FREE Blu-ray player is. This Imamura set is enthusiastically recommended! 

Gary Tooze

June 29th, 2011

 

The Insect Woman aka Nippon konchűki [Blu-ray]

 

(Sh˘hei Imamura, 1963)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Nikkatsu

Video: Masters of Cinema Spine #22

 

Disc:

Region: B-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:02:51.822

Disc Size: 47,430,128,273 bytes

Feature Size: 35,105,955,840 bytes

Nishi-Ginza Station Size: 8,925,911,040 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Transparent Dual-Format Blu-ray case

Release date: February 21st, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 1281 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1281 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• Newly restored high-definition master of The Insect Woman
• New progressive transfer of Nishi-Ginza Station, a 1958 feature by Imamura (51:50 in 1080P)
• A video conversation about The Insect Woman between Imamura and critic Tadao Sat˘ (20:53 in 1080i)
• 36-PAGE BOOKLET featuring two new essays by film scholar Tony Rayns on both films, alongside rare archival imagery

Enclosed DVD of the Feature

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: “My heroines are true to life – just look around you at Japanese women. They are strong, and they outlive men,” director Sh˘hei Imamura once observed. And so an audacious, anthropological approach to filmmaking came into full maturity with the director’s vast 1963 chronicle of pre- and post-war Japan, The Insect Woman [Nippon-konchűki, or An Account of Japanese Insects].


Comparing his heroine, Tome Matsuki (played by Sachiko Hidari, who won the “Best Actress” award at the 1964 Berlin Film Festival for the role) to the restlessness and survival instincts of worker insects, the film is an unsparing study of working-class female life. Beginning with Tome’s birth in 1918, it follows her through five decades of social change, several improvised careers, and male-inflicted cruelty.


Elliptically plotted, brimming over with black humour and taboo material, and immaculately staged in crystalline NikkatsuScope, The Insect Woman is arguably Imamura’s most radical and emphatic testament to female resilience. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present The Insect Woman alongside Imamura’s rarely seen 1958 feature Nishi-Ginza Station in a special Dual Format edition.

 

 

The Film:

Born in a rural farming village in 1918, TomÚ 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 TomÚ (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 TomÚ his ultimate heroine.

 

Shohei Imamura's darkly elegant 1963 film about a rural Japanese woman drawn into a life of prostitution compares the lead character to an insect for her persistence in the face of adversity—it even begins with an insect climbing a hill. At the same time Imamura presents the social forces that shape his characters' actions: the woman's difficult family life (including an incestuous relationship with a stepfather) and the economic hardships following World War II pull her into the streets but also help elevate her to become a powerful madam. The insect metaphor extends into the film's rhythms: the movements of the woman—and of groups of characters seen in tableaux as they eat or talk—often seem as jittery and reflex-driven as a bug's. But the film is stylistically muddled, many scenes ending in freeze-frames that sometimes comment on the narrative by leaving characters in midstream but other times seem affected.

Excerpt from Fred Camper's review at The Chicago Reader located HERE

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

The Insect Woman was offered on DVD in 2009 from Criterion in their Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura boxset (reviewed HERE). we have compared one frame at the very bottom of this review. The Masters of Cinema is brighter, shows more detail and looks more like film. The Blu-ray looks rich with one brief instance of more noticeable damage but otherwise is similar to other Japanese film-to-1080P we have seen from the 60's. The transfer supports the texture and I see no signs of manipulation. There is no distracting noise. There are sequences of still images in The Insect Woman that generally look the same visual level as the live-action. The transfer of Nishi-Ginza Station is of similar quality - progressive, relatively clean - perhaps a shade darker. It's bitrate is smaller.  

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nishi-Ginza Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1281 kbps does a competent job of exporting the film's original Japanese dialogue. Aside from that it is largely inconsequential without requirements for dynamic depth. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region B-locked.

 

Extras :

Aside from the inclusion of Imamura's 51 minute 1958 feature Nishi-Ginza Station, we also get a 20-minute video conversation about The Insect Woman between Imamura and critic Tadao Sat˘ (in 1080i) with optional English subtitles. The package contains a 36-page liner notes booklet featuring two new essays by film scholar Tony Rayns on both films, alongside rare archival imagery. Being Dual-Format the package contains a DVD of the feature.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
As frequently with revisiting films that have reached Blu-ray status after a first exposure in SD - I gained a further appreciation. Imamura's The Insect Woman is filled with the director's nuances and bold style.  The package is all the better for the inclusion of the pithy Nishi-Ginza Station as well as the interview and booklet. Masters of Cinema have put together another 'keeper' and this Dual-Format release is recommended. 

Gary Tooze

February 2nd, 2011

 


 

(aka "Ningen J˘hatsu" )

 

directed by Sh˘hei Imamura
Japan 1967

 

Oshima Tadeshi is one of the 91,000 citizens to disappear into thin air yearly in Japan. A film crew has selected the seemingly average case of this seemingly average man - a plastics salesman from the country taken in by his employers as family - case as their focus and find several possible reasons as to why he might have disappeared, but no definitive answer. He had embezzled a substantial sum of money from his company two years before, but it had been paid back by docking his paycheck and he was not fired. Could he still be stricken by guilt? In addition to his fiancee Yoshie (nicknamed "The Rat" by the filmmakers) who has joined the film crew to find him, he had a mistress who might have gotten pregnant by him. There is also the suspicion of a secret relationship between Oshima and Yoshie's timid older sister Sayo (a failed geisha), and inquiry into this thread reveals that not everyone is quite who they present themselves to be in front of the camera. Although distributed theatrically by Nikkatsu, A MAN VANISHES was Shohei Imamura's first independent production for his newly founded Imamura Films in collaboration the Arts Theatre Guild (an offshoot of Towa that had been geared towards the distribution of foreign films in Japan, and had just started moving into low budget feature film production). Although it presents itself as an investigative film about the whereabouts of Oshima, Imamura reveals himself to be far more interested in the portrait of the character that emerges through the interviewees (is he a ladies man or "a little wet"? a suave salesman or incompetent? youthful or middle-aged? guilt-stricken or fun-loving? was he running from obligation or his own fears of inadequacy?), sometimes through the use of hidden cameras and tape recorders (the wild sound of these sequences was impossible to synchronize to the image) and censor bars over the faces of those who did not consent to filming. The film actually becomes more interesting when it starts to ferret out the character of Yoshie - who Imamura claims used them and the camera as much as they used her - far from the demure and fragile persona she presents to the camera (although apparently far less monstrous than she actually was off-camera). Imamura weaves the fictionalized narrative of the documentary not only through the selection of images and sound bytes - not to mention the minimalist musical interjections of Toshir˘ Mayuzumi (REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE) - but also by asking leading questions that allow him to pursue threads of his own interest (although one gradually discovers how much more adeptly Yoshie is at this method of eliciting desired responses). Despite the contradictory viewpoints and consultations of mediums, this is no RASHOMON, and Imamura's reveals of the constructed fiction of the documentary feel a shade academic (through heated exchanges in a room revealed to be constructed on a soundstage, and re-enactments on location with the actual participants), as does the summation that no one perspective can encompass the whole story; and yet, the viewer's mind does ping back and forth between the fiction of the filming and the reality that is being captured. When Imamura states that the crew's focus should return to determining Oshima's whereabouts, it is actually a clever device to end the film since they arrive at a point where they are only going in circles. A MAN VANISHES may have been scarce in distribution abroad because it possesses neither artfilm gloss or exploitation glitz, but it presents a frank and seedy view of Japan far more palpably than many of Nikkatsu's higher profile pictures.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 8 July 1967 (Japan)

Reviews                                                         More Reviews                                                     DVD Reviews

 

DVD Review: Eureka Video (Masters of Cinema) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 2:09:20
Video

1.32:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.51 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 Digtial 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.32:1

Edition Details:
• Tony Rayns on A MAN VANISHES (16:9; 17:42)
• Sh˘hei Imamura Interview (4:3; 8:28)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:09)
• 35 page liner notes booklet

DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2011
Amaray

Chapters 13

 

Comments

Although mastered from a new high-definition transfer, Masters of Cinema's dual-layer, progressive DVD has been encoded in NTSC resolution (their DVD of KWAIDAN was also NTSC) rather than the PAL standard for SD in Europe (there's also no PAL speedup). The mono track features clear dialogue and the spare musical cues come through forcefully. The English subtitles are error-free.

MoC prefaces their presentation with a note that some audio could not be synchronized to the image, and that this has always been the case rather than a fault of the DVD transfer; however, they do not explain that the reason for this the hidden camera interviews were shot with wild sound. Tony Rains gives a mostly concise (he presents a lengthy quote from Imamura that redundantly repeats statements he himself made about the film moments before) analysis of the film that contextualizes it as the turning point from his Nikkatsu fictional work to the documentary work that would follow A MAN VANISHES. The director's son interviews him in an archival segment subtitled in both Japanese and English. The trailer rounds out the extras. A thirty-five page booklet features essays by the director, assistant editor, three vintage news clippings on the phenomenon of vanishings, and fellow Nikkatsu filmmaker Nagisa Oshima's (IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES) critique of Imamura's film.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures


Subtitle sample

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 
Director Sh˘hei Imamura directing the film within the film

 


DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 0 - NTSC


Profound Desires of the Gods aka Kamigami no Fukaki Yokubo [Blu-ray]

 

(Shohei Imamura, 1968)

 

Dual Format Edition available October 24th, 2011

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Nikkatsu

Video: Masters of Cinema Series

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:53:25.269

Disc Size: 44,605,218,128 bytes

Feature Size: 42,178,990,080 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 19

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 21st, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 877 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 877 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Introduction by Tony Rayns (11:37 in HD!)

• Japanese Trailer with English subtites (5:28 in HD!)

Extensive booklet with a new essay by Rayns (to accompany his introduction), rare stills, reprinted statements by Imamura, a lengthy 1994 career interview and a transcript of Imamura's introduction and Q&A session at the 1994 Edinburgh International Film Festival's screening of the film.

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Shohei Imamura's epic production was of little acclaim when first released and has since grown to become legendary in Japanese cinema. Profound Desires Of The Gods chronicles the tale of the Futori Family and an engineer, a powerful encounter in both strange and powerful ways.

The culmination of Shohei Imamura's extraordinary examinations of the fringes of Japanese society throughout the 1960s, Profound Desires of the Gods was an 18-month super-production which failed to make an impression at the time of its release, but has since risen in stature to become one of the most legendary albeit least seen Japanese films of recent decades. Presenting a vast chronicle of life on the remote Kurage Island, the film centres on the disgraced, superstitious, interbred Futori family and the Tokyo engineer sent to supervise the creation of a new well an encounter which leads to both conflict and complicity in strange and powerful ways. A tragic view of a passing epoch that teeters on the edge of grotesque farce, Imamura's merciless gaze combines with spectacular colour 'Scope photography to create a mythic saga convulsing with earthly impulses.

 

 

The Film:

One should note that Imamura's camerawork both raises the sense of watching through a window and also conveys a sense of the animals -- actually legendary gods through the film's identification of divinity with nature -- as the ones doing the watching. What the film's title, content, and structure emphatically exclude is the possibility of equating the film's "gods" with the film's audience. It would be smug and arrogant to assume that the film's viewers are meant to be gods. Because Imamura's camera often switches focus from the human characters to the animals and back again, it is clear that the camera's field of view does not singlemindedly represent any one particular perspective. And even if it were Imamura's intention to make viewers into gods, so to speak, the viewer-gods would be necessarily impotent and ineffective, since the viewer is at the mercy of Imamura's cinematic and narrative judgment.

To the other hand, one could conclude that the film is little more than an indulgent effort to equate the real god back to Imamura himself. While Imamura has played similar tricks in his other films -- most notably in his 1967 film NINGEN JOHATSU (A MAN VANISHES) where Imamura surreptitiously photographed a woman who is searching for her missing fiance and who falls in love with the fake interviewer-investigator Imamura paid to accompany her -- there is no such sense of egotism in KAMIGAMI NO FUKAKI YOKUBO because Imamura never calls undue attention to his camera tricks. He also does not carry anything to gratuitous extremes. Imamura is certainly fascinated by the dirty laundry of humankind, and it is therefore only natural that he would be attracted to the themes of incest and lecherous gods that Kuragejima has to offer. But in this film at least, Imamura wants to examine and learn from those themes, not exploit or revel in them.

 


The abrupt epilogue of the film somewhat disrupts the flow of the film, but it does effectively address how these concerns have changed the community five years after the main events of the film. Kariya, the engineer, returns with his family to visit, as does Kametaro, who has become disillusioned with life in Tokyo. Although western influences have transformed the island (Coca-Cola signs are everywhere), new indigenous legends are also emerging. Imamura implies that such folklore will always find resources to survive in the face of encroaching realities. What is most striking, though, is how strange and foreign the visitors seem on the island. Not having witnessed the events that led to the creation of the new myths, the visitors will never consider the rock named after the now-deceased Toriko to be anything more than a curiosity. Kametaro is best qualified among the visitors to realize the full import of the changes, and it is therefore appropriate that he is the only one who sees a vision of Toriko dancing on the train tracks ahead of the locomotive pulling Kariya's train. This is a rather clumsy method, but Imamura makes his point: Kametaro (and the audience) are well on their way to realizing that the story of Toriko has now become intimately anchored within the village's traditions and collective mythology -- just as a large rock hurled onto the island became a part of the local lore twenty years earlier.

Excerpt from Manavendra K. Thakur's review at IMDb located HERE

 


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

The 42-year old Japanese film looks impressive in 1080P. There is abundant grain that is not overwhelming and the image is never glossy nor appears manipulated.  Profound Desires of the Gods was shot almost entirely outdoors and the natural lighting gives the HD image an authentic, and consistent, appearance. There are moments of strong detail in the many close-ups of insects and marine life. Colors, like the rich flora of the island and the turquoise ocean look a little pale but I suspect this was a product of the film's age and utilized source.  This is still a beautiful film, filled with unique and delightful shots, that benefits greatly by the move to hi-def. It's an incredible treat to simply see this film let alone in the glory of Blu-ray definition. I was treated to one of my most enjoyable presentations of the entire year with Profound Desires of the Gods.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

No superfluous boost going on here - its a lossless 1.0 channel (mono) track - DTS-HD Master at 877 kbps in original Japanese - pushing through the center channel. I appreciate the authenticity but fans who indulge for their Surround systems will be left empty handed with Profound Desires of the Gods. There is an original score by Toshir˘ Mayuzumi that never comes into play much and it is, Predictably, without range or depth but remains clear and consistent with crisp dialogue. There are optional English subtitles and, unfortunately, my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked Blu-ray ('Fiddlesticks' as the warning screen states).

 

 

Extras :

We get a super introduction by Tony Rayns for almost a dozen minutes in HD. He talks about the historical aspects before discussing the director and production. We get a Japanese trailer in HD with English subtitles that runs an unusually lengthy 5.5 minutes and another of MoC's magnificent booklets - this with a new essay by Rayns, rare stills, reprinted statements by Imamura, a lengthy 1994 career interview and a transcript of Imamura's introduction and Q&A session at the 1994 Edinburgh International Film Festival's screening of the film.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I believe Masters of Cinema are only releasing this in the Blu-ray format at this time. It's an incredible Imamura film - one I'm surprised I haven't seen or at least was more aware of. I truly felt 'treated' by seeing it on Blu-ray - one of the most interesting directors in an essential film from his oeuvre. For those lucky enough to have been exposed to Imamura's style (see Ballad of Narayama, Black Rain, or Pigs and Battleships - 1962, The Insect Woman - 1963 and Intentions of Murder - 1964) from Criterion's Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura, The Eel (Unagi), Dr. Akagi, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge, Vengeance Is Mine and "The Pornographers") - Profound Desires of the Gods is easily identifiable as 'his' - another in his unforgettable body of work. I'd have been thrilled to simply see this in SD - but in the film-like representation of 1080P we, emphatically, give this our highest recommendation! We're talking 'Blu-ray of the Year' category as many will, surely, agree. 

Gary Tooze

May 25th, 2010

 

Dual Format Edition available October 24th, 2011

 

(aka 'Vengeance Is Mine' or 'Fukushű suruwa wareniari')

Directed by Shohei Imamura
Japan 19
79

 

A thief, murderer, and charming lady-killer, Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) is on the run from the police. Director Shohei Imamura turns this fact-based story, of the seventy-eight-day killing spree of a remorseless man from a devoutly Catholic family, into a cold, perverse, and at times diabolically funny tale of the primitive coexisting with the modern. More than just a true-crime case, Vengeance Is Mine bares mankind’s snarling id.

***

Based on the true story of Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) and his murderous rampage which sparked a 78-day nationwide manhunt, Shohei Imamura's disturbing gem Vengeance is Mine won every major award in Japan on the year of its release. Both seducing and repelling with its unusual story and grisly humour, Imamura uncovers a seedy underbelly of civilized Japanese society.

Unfolding through multiple flashbacks, Ogata delivers a career-defining performance as a day-labourer and smalltime con-artist who, after killing two of his co-workers, embarks on a psychopathic spree of rape and murder. Eluding the police and public, Japan's infamous "King of Criminals" passes himself off as a Kyoto University professor, only to become entangled with an innkeeper and her perverted mother. Five years in the making, Vengeance is Mine transcends the limitations of run-of-the-mill criminal studies by presenting a portrait of a killer imbued with a poignant, tragic banality.

Shohei Imamura established his own independent production company, Imamura Productions, to allow himself more freedom away from the major studios, to choose riskier subject matter, and explore greater stylistic experimentation without compromise. He started his career in film as an assistant to Yasujiro Ozu before earning a reputation as a key member of the Japanese New Wave with Pigs and Battleships (1961) and The Insect Woman (1963). In 1975, Imamura founded the Yokohama Vocational School of Broadcast and Film which counts Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) among its many graduates.

 

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 21st, 1979 

Reviews                                                                    More Reviews                                                              DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Ole Kofoed and Gary Tooze for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

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Distribution

Panorama

Region 3 - NTSC

Criterion - Spine #384

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)
Region 2 - PAL
Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11)
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray

Criterion Collection Spine # 384

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

Runtime 2:20:17 2:20:30 2:15:20 (4% PAL speedup) 2:20:30.380 2:20:45.728
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.45 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.20 mb/s

NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.40 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,034,786,300 bytes

Feature: 37,050,273,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.66:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,649,497,872 bytes

Feature: 41,516,316,672 bytes

Video Bitrate 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

 

Panorama

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

Bitrate:

 

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)

 

Bitrate:

 

Eureka (Masters of Cinema Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 / DD5.1) Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0)

Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 1569 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1569 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Commentary: DTS-HD Master Audio English 1562 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1562 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, Chinese, None English, None English, None English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Panorama

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Biography of Shohei Imamura.

DVD Release Date: August 22th, 2002
2-DVD Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Excerpts from a video interview with director Shohei Imamura, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan
• Theatrical trailer and teaser
• Liner notes 34-page booklet featuring a new essay by critic Michael Atkinson, a 1994 interview with Imamura by writer Toichi Nakata, and writings from Imamura on Vengeance Is Mine and his approach to filmmaking

 

DVD Release Date: May 15th, 2007
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Full-length audio commentary by noted critic and filmmaker Tony Rayns
• Video introduction by Alex Cox
• 36-page booklet with a new essay by midnighteye's Jasper Sharp, new writing by Dr. Alastair Philips, reprints of original promotional brochures.

 

DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2005
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11)

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,034,786,300 bytes

Feature: 37,050,273,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by noted critic and filmmaker Tony Rayns
• Video introduction by director Alex Cox
• Original Japanese trailers
• 56-page book featuring a lengthy 1994 career-spanning interview with Imamura by T˘ichi Nakata; original promotional material; and a director’s statement

DVD Included
 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 2nd, 2010
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion
 

1.66:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,649,497,872 bytes

Feature: 41,516,316,672 bytes

Video Bitrate 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary from 2005 featuring critic Tony Rayns
• Excerpts from a 1999 interview with director Shohei Imamura, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan (10:17)
• Trailer (3:01) and teaser (3:02)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Atkinson, a 1994 interview with Imamura by filmmaker Toichi Nakata, and writings by Imamura on Vengeance Is Mine and his approach to directing

Blu-ray Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 20

 

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (August 14'): To keep it short - since the screen captures tell much of the story - the 1.66:1 Criterion shows more information in the frame (generally on top bottom and left edges) - like their 2007 DVD, the color scheme is richer than the other releases with fuller colors and strong contrast. I can't tell you which is more accurate to its theatrical roots. Hopefully you can determine for yourselves which visuals are more appealing. The Criterion is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. After all is said and done, yes, I prefer the Criterion image.

Audio, for my hearing, is a wash - both Blu-rays have lossless mono although the MoC may offer a shade more depth and the Criterion a more stable high-end - but I could be talking through my hat. Both offer optional English subtitles and the Criterion Blu-ray is, predictably, region 'A'-locked.

Criterion include the 2005 Rayns commentary in addition to what was already on their 2007 DVD; a 10-minute subtitled video interview with director Shohei Imamura, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan. There is also a trailer, teaser and a 32-page liner notes booklet with essays (Michael Atkinson) an interview with Imamura by writer Toichi Nakata from 1994, we also get a small glimpse into Imamura's writing and approach to filmmaking in some short writings by him. This Criterion release is NOT dual-format - the package only has a Blu-ray disc.

Great presentation, solid extras - this Criterion Blu-ray release is a must-own and those who are capable may even wish to consider double-dipping from the MoC 1080P. 

***

 

ADDITION - Masters of Cinema - Blu-ray - August 2010': I've watched this Blu-ray only once and would like to take another viewing - or some sample scenes toggling back and forth with the DVDs - over the next few days. As this came out at the same time as the release we will post the review but please return for more information on the image quality. On my system I saw what appeared to be an unusual type of banding while in motion but I couldn't reproduce it on my computer screen captures - so I'm a little curious. The dual-layered transfer is in and around 1.85:1 as the previous MoC DVD.

Color-wise this looks the best of all the releases besides the Criterion. The MoC DVD from 2005 (is it that long ago?) has lost much of the green haze and skin tones seem much more accurate in the new format release. With both the improved, more accurate, color scheme, slightly lighter contrast and the higher resolution I see more detail in the background.

Audio is a lossless DTS Master 2.0 channel at 1569 Kbps and it improves in clarity and depth although this would be fairly subtle to most viewers. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has determined it to be Region 'B'-locked.

Digital extras are the same with the excellent Rayns commentary and Alex Cox intro (in HD) - as well as the Japanese trailers. We do get, what appears to be a new 56-page book featuring a lengthy 1994 career-spanning interview with Imamura by T˘ichi Nakata, some original promotional material and a director’s statement.

Our initial feeling is that this Blu-ray is the best release - in every area. We will investigate the HD visuals and report back soon.

***

 

ADDITION - Criterion - Region 1- NTSC April 07': There is an issue with the aspect ratio of this Imamura film. Criterion claim 'Vengeance Is Mine is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1' and the only AR details I could get about the film are that the negative ratio was 1.96:1. If we do get any more details we will post it here.

Regardless of that the Criterion image must be considered an improvement over the two existing editions. It is much brighter, colors more vibrant and most importantly there is significantly more information in the frame. The Eureka, to their credit, probably did very little in the way of digital enhancement and I think it may actually be the sharpest, but the dullness (and greenish haze) are an eye-sore next to the Criterion. I can't comment on which is more accurate in regards to theatrical representation, but purely on visual appearance the Criterion is best for the the visual appeal of the colors although skin tones do seem overly red at times to me. It seems obvious that Criterion have boosted the black levels somewhat. If this is bothersome to you then you may wish to avoid this release.

The Criterion offers a 10-minute subtitled video interview with director Shohei Imamura, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan. There is also a trailer, teaser and a 32-page liner notes booklet with essays (Michael Atkinson) an interview with Imamura by writer Toichi Nakata from 1994, we also get a small glimpse into Imamura's writing and approach to filmmaking in some short writings by him.

The Criterion supplements are good but do not eclipse the Rayns commentary on the Eureka Masters of Cinema edition which also includes the Cox intro and 35-page liner notes booklet.

I might say that overall I lean towards the Eureka (loved the commentary) but the Criterion image is so captivating in side-by-side analysis. For Imamura fans I suggest owning both. Extravagant perhaps but the film's impact and brooding intensity may warrant it. If you are not into audio commentaries then obviously the Criterion may be the way to go. It has been digitally enhanced but as it is not a blanket approach we often consider this a form of restoration. It amounts to a personal decision on which you prefer.    

***

ADDITION - Panorama - November 05' - The non-anamorphic Panorama is a 2 X DVD5 set spreading the image over two single layered discs - and many might consider it to be fatally poor even considering its price - it is obviously evident that it is by far the weaker of the two versions. It has blown-out contrast and chroma evident (see large capture #3 - his sweater). Colors have been manipulated out of proportion in the Panorama edition and you can see how much in the comparison - skin tones and clothing seem particularly affected. Obviously extras and everything else go the way of the Eureka (Moc) disc. No real contest at all here.

****

The Master's of Cinema DVD is a bit on the dull side with a kind of greenish haze over the image. Original audio and adept removable subtitles compliment the viewing experience. The enthusiastic Cox intro, Rayns informative commentary and extensive liner notes booklet continue to signify Eureka's MoC as the PAL counterpart to the Criterion Collection. Outside of a theatrical showing, Imamura's caustic and matter-of-fact film expose has probably never looked better.

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC

 


(
Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 

Masters of Cinema Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 


 

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

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

Subtitle Sample


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


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Distribution

Panorama

Region 3 - NTSC

Criterion - Spine #384

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)
Region 2 - PAL
Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11)
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray

Criterion Collection Spine # 384

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray


 


(aka 'The Ballad of Narayama' or 'Narayama bushiko')

Directed by Shohei Imamura
Japan  1983

Cinematic anthropologist extraordinaire Shōhei Imamura won his first Palme d’Or at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival for The Ballad of Narayama [Narayama bushikō], his transcendent adaptation of two classic stories by Shichirō Fukazawa.


In a small village in a remote valley where the harshness of life dictates that survival overrules compassion, elderly widow Orin is approaching her 70th birthday – the age when village law says she must go up to the mythic Mount Narayama to die. But there are several loose ends within her own family to tie up first.


Creating a vividly realised inverse image of “civilised” society with typical directness and black humour, Imamura presents a bracingly unsentimental rumination on mortality and an engrossing study of a community’s struggles against the natural elements. Handled with a masterful control and simplicity, moving effortlessly between the comic and the horrific, The Ballad of Narayama is one of the legendary director’s deepest, richest works, and ranks among the finest films of its decade.

***

The great legacy of Japanese cinema finds in Imamura a gifted heir. From Mizogushi and Ozu to Kurosawa and Oshima, Japanese film-making has created a whole tradition which has acquired universal acclaim due to its immense insight and contribution to world cinema. Imamura retains and above all preserves most of the elements typical of the Japanese cinematic culture, having already created some astonishing pieces of work. From the magnificent The Profund Desire of the Gods to Eijanaika and his latest compelling Black Rain (not to be confused with Ridley Scott's film) Imamura has already established himself as Japan's finest contemporary director.

The Balled of Narayama is an exemplary feature of Imamura's cinematic genre. Indeterminately set in the past, it highlights the traditions and mores of an isolated mountainous village which dictate to a seventy-year old widow that she has to go up to the mountain and await her death. This does not inhibit her from concerning herself with the future of her sons. One has to find a new wife since he's widowed, another hasn't been with a woman before, and the third one needs to be taught manners. The director focuses on the processes by which she attempts to realize these tasks in juxtaposition with her obligation to the laws of her community.

Excerpt from Spiros Gangas of the Edinburgh Film Society website located HERE.

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 29th, 1983 - Tokyo

Reviews                                                                  More Reviews                                                                DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema (Dual Format) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC LEFT

2) Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

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Distribution Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC Masters of Cinema - Spine #24 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:09:40  2:09:40  2:10:04.546
Video 1.84:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.81 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.13 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,402,991,946 bytes

Feature: 36,634,908,672 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

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

Bitrate:

IV

Bitrate:

Animeigo

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)  Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)  DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 779 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 779 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps /
16-bit)
Subtitles English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, None English (Full, Limited or captions only), None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Intercontinental Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.84:1

Edition Details:

• Photo Gallery
• Trailers for 3 films
• 2-page liner notes in Chinese

DVD Release Date: October 13th, 2005

Keep Case inside cardboard box
Chapters: 9

Release Information:
Studio: Animeigo

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Program notes

• Photo Gallery
• Trailers

DVD Release Date: June 10th, 2008

Keep Case
Chapters: 21

Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,402,991,946 bytes

Feature: 36,634,908,672 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Exclusive new video interview with scholar Tony Rayns (19:17)
• Four original Japanese theatrical trailers, including behind-the-scenes footage
• A 44-page full-colour booklet containing a 1983 director’s statement by Sh˘hei Imamura; a newly translated 1983 interview with Imamura conducted by Max Tessier; the newly translated production diary for the film kept by producer Jir˘ Tomoda; a wide selection of rare production stills; and facsimile imagery from the film’s original Japanese press book.

NTSC DVD of the Feature

Blu-ray Release Date: October 24th, 2011
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 16

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema (Dual Format) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - October 11': It's a pretty dramatic improvement over the less-than-stellar DVDs. The Masters of Cinema disc is darker with richer colors. There is some nice grain, contrast almost achieves moiring via the pitch black-levels without achieving it. There is more information in the frame on the 1.85:1 aspect ratio Blu-ray. Overall, it's like seeing the film afresh. It's dual-layered and progressive and very much in-line with what we have come to expect from the, precise and professional, MoC group.

The DVDs both had some rough patches in the audio (either inherent in the production or the best source available) and while they still seem to exist and much smoother and far less noticeable via the DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo at 779 kbps. It has no response depth as the film doesn't demand it - but we can trust the lossless sound is the best available - despite limitations of the production. There are new, optional English subtitles in a clean and clear white font. The Blu-ray disc is region 'B'-locked.

Supplements, predictably, advance beyond the SD releases and include an exclusive new, 20-minute, video interview with scholar Tony Rayns discussing Sh˘hei Imamura and the production while including interesting details. There are four original Japanese theatrical trailers and a wonderful 44-page full-color booklet containing a 1983 director’s statement by Sh˘hei Imamura; a newly translated 1983 interview with Imamura conducted by Max Tessier; the newly translated production diary for the film kept by producer Jir˘ Tomoda; a wide selection of rare production stills; and facsimile imagery from the film’s original Japanese press book. The Dual Format Blu-ray package contains a dual-layered NTSC DVD of the Feature film also containing the same extras.

This director's films are some of the most interesting - afraid of taboos and fringe topics - and I think this is a fantastic choice for the Masters of Cinema to have undertaken in the new format. We finally have a home theater release that is closer to film and the extras are important to Imamura fans. Strongly recommended! 

***

ADDITION: Animeigo - Region 1- NTSC June 08': This new Animeigo edition is dual-layered and is superior to the old, now out-of-print, I.V. release in every area. It has less artifacts, is smoother, slightly better skin tones and is progressive (where the single-layered Region 3 release is interlaced - see 'combing' in last capture!). Aside from the interlacing the I.V. wasn't a decidedly poor image but the Animeigo trumps it.

Subtitles are certainly more thorough and give the three-tired option of 'Full', 'Limited' or 'captions only'. This effort is much appreciated. The font is a bit heavy and bright yellow but these are my only complaints.

Both sport a fairly clear (some hiss), yet unremarkable, 2.0 channel Japanese audio track.

The Animeigo jumps ahead in the supplement department with some static screen program notes to augment the trailers and gallery.

The Animeigo is a good edition and I'm very happy they didn't mess it up. It's clean and progressive - looks about as good as it will for the time being - and some effort has been put into the subtitle translation(s). Yes, recommended - the film has grown on me quite a bit over the years. More than just Imamura fans should indulge!

***

ON THE INTERCONTINENTAL VIDEO: Considering this is a non-progressive image (see combing sample - last capture) it doesn't look too bad. Anamorphic and tight to the frame it sports adequate if not stellar subtitle translations. It may be a shade soft at times but colors look true and muted and contrast is more than acceptable. No applicable extras to contend with but for the calibre of director and film this is an exceptional price-to-value ratio. Probably one of my biggest complaints is against the cover design. At $14 though we still recommend.

Gary W. Tooze

 


Menus

 

Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC LEFT vs. Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT


 

Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 


Subtitle Sample

 

1) Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC TOP

2) Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC TOP

2) Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC TOP

2) Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC TOP

2) Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Intercontinental Video - Region 3 - NTSC TOP

2) Animeigo - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

 

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