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directed by Anthony Garner, Morimasa Matsumoto
UK/Japan 1989

 

Based on the novel by Tokyo-born Scottish writer Oswald Wynd and scripted by Christopher Hampton (A DANGEROUS METHOD), THE GINGER TREE finds Scottish girl Mary MacKenzie (Samantha Bond, ERIK THE VIKING) impulsively braving the trade route to 1903 Manchuria in 1903 to wed dashing military attache Richard Collingsworth (Adrian Rawlins, BREAKING THE WAVES). Mary soon becomes disillusioned with her marriage and Richard's coldness, however, and becomes charmed by Japanese attache Count Kentaro Kurihama (Daisuke RyŻ, RAN). When Britain sides with the Russians against the Japanese, Richard travels to Port Arthur, leaving Mary alone in their home with no allowance and warnings that is not proper or safe for a lady to go about on her own, Mary starts secretly meeting Kentaro who has remained behind enemy lines as a spy. When Richard returns to find her pregnant, he intends to ship her back to Scotland but refuses to give her a divorce since he had arranged to receive £300 per year from Mary's mother for as long as the marriage lasts. Kentaro instead arranges for Mary to go to Tokyo where he has set up a house in an area that set aside for foreigners. She learns upon arriving from Kentaro's childhood friend, the suffragette Baroness Aiko Onnodera (Fumi Dan, HAUSU) that Kentaro is married with four children and that Mary is technically considered a concubine, as much an outcast as Aiko who is divorced because she is barren. Mary gives birth to a boy who she names Taro, but her happiness is short-lived when the baby is "reclaimed" by Kentaro to be a Yōshi, the adopted heir of a family without a son who will eventually marry the daughter. With neither the British embassy nor the local police to help her, Mary decides to follow Aiko's example and seek independence (rejecting the house and monthly allowance from Kentaro). She pitches her services as a fashion designer to department store owner Tsushima (TetsurŰ Tanba, HARAKIRI) after discovering his western fashions twenty years out of date, and moves up in the company while using her spare time to search for her son. She continues to see Kentaro even though he will not reveal the whereabouts of her son. As the years pass and a second world war draws near, Mary choose to remain in Tokyo to be near in spirit to her son even as she loses hope of ever seeing him again. Joanna McCallum (HOPSCOTCH), Nicholas Farrell (CHARIOTS OF FIRE), Oliver Parker (HELLRAISER), Takashi Sasano (BRIGHT FUTURE), and Jean Badin (GENEALOGIES OF A CRIME) also star.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 26 November 1989 - 17 December 1989 (UK TV)

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DVD Review: Simply Media - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Simply Media

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 3:59:45 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: ~7.53 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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

Bitrate

Audio English/Japenese Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Simply Media

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
� Disc One:
� Episodes:
� - Episode 1 (4:3; 59:05)
� - Episode 2 (4:3; 61:48)

� Disc Two:
� Episodes:
� - Episode 3 (4:3; 61:24)
� - Episode 4 (4:3; 57:28)

DVD Release Date: April 25th, 2016
Amaray

Chapters 28

 

 

 

Comments

THE GINGER TREE was one of the first films photographed in HD to be screened on TV in the UK, although it was only broadcast in HD in Japan and in SD PAL in the UK. The aspect ratio of the 2048x1152 pixel analogue HD image was 1.78:1 but the British DP framed for 1.33:1 cropping. It is regrettable that Simply Media only had the SD PAL master to work from regarding the framing, but the videography of that period still has some ghosting and flaring light sources one expects. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio fares better. There are optional subtitles for all of the English dialogue while some of the relevant Japanese dialogue has permanent subtitles, sometimes with a transparent grey backing. There are no extras.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Simply Media

Region 2 - PAL

 




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