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Death By Hanging aka "KŰshikei" [Blu-ray]
(Nagisa ‘shima, 1968)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Criterion Collection Spine #798
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 47,196,868,568 bytes
Feature Size: 34,864,048,128 bytes
Video Bitrate: 35.19 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: February 16th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
• New interview with critic Tony Rayns (30:17)
Description: Genius provocateur Nagisa Oshima, an influential figure in the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s, made one of his most startling political statements with the compelling pitch-black satire Death by Hanging. In this macabre farce, a Korean man is sentenced to death in Japan but survives his execution, sending the authorities into a panic about what to do next. At once disturbing and oddly amusing, Oshima’s constantly surprising film is a subversive and surreal indictment of both capital punishment and the treatment of Korean immigrants in his country.
All of Oshima's films deal in a challenging and committed way with specifically Japanese questions and problems. Death by Hanging is an 'absurd' comedy about the situation of Korean immigrants in Japan, centering on a state execution that goes wrong, mounted as a sort of witty Brechtian argument.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
It begins as if it were going to be a solemn documentary about the
horrors of capital punishment. We see the prison buildings in a long
shot from the air. The narrator describes the death house as looking
like any other ordinary house, situated on a small hill, and we cut to
the interior of the execution building.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Death by Hanging looks authentically heavy on dual-layered Blu-ray (max'ed out bitrate) from Criterion. The image is flat with contrast marginally improving as the film runs on. It is never crisp or glossy. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio but the film's unusual framing always seems suspect with odd, occasional head-chopping, compositions. There is only sporadic depth and a few frame-specific scratches (see sample below.) This Blu-ray image is no demo for your system but seems a pleasing representation getting the most out of the source utilized.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Passive but accurate audio in the form of a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) in Japanese. No notable effects but the score by composer Hikaru Hayashi (Voice Without a Shadow, Onibaba, Kuroneko, The Naked Island) is well supported by the uncompressed transfer. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.
Criterion add some supplements; a new 1/2 hour interview with critic Tony Rayns who discusses Death By Hanging and its continued social relevance. There is also a new, 25-minute, high-definition digital transfer of director Nagisa Oshima’s 1965 experimental short documentary Diary of Yunbogi where he investigates Japanese-Korean relations with a heartrending portrait of an impoverished South Korean boy. There is also a trailer and the package has a line notes booklet with an essay by critic Howard Hampton and a 1968 director’s statement by Oshima.
January 18th, 2016
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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