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Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy Blu-ray

 

Directed by Akio Jiss˘ji

 

 This Transient Life (1970)                               Mandara (1971)


Poem (1972)                               It Was a Faint Dream (aka "Asaki yumemishi") (1974)

 


 

Akio Jiss˘ji created a rich and diverse body of work during his five decades in Japan's film and television industries. For some, he is best-known for his science-fiction: the 1960s TV series Ultraman and 1998 s box-office success Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis. For others, it is his 1990s adaptations of horror and mystery novelist Edogawa Rampo, such as Watcher in the Attic and Murder on D Street. And then there are his New Wave films for the Art Theatre Guild, three of which This Transient Life, Mandara and Poem, forming The Buddhist Trilogy are collected here.

Winner of the Golden Leopard award at the 1970 Locarno Film Festival, This Transient Life is among the Art Theatre Guild s most successful and most controversial productions. The film concerns a brother and sister from a rich family who defy the expectations placed on them: he has little interest in further education or his father s business, instead obsessing over Buddhist statues; she continually refuses a string of suitors and the prospect of marriage. Their closeness, and isolation, gives way to an incestuous relationship which, in turn, breeds disaster.

Mandara, Jiss˘ji's first colour feature, maintained the controversial subject matter, focusing on a cult who recruit through rape and hope to achieve true ecstasy through sexual release. Shot, as with all of Jiss˘ji's Art Theatre Guild works, in a radically stylised manner, the film sits somewhere between the pinku genre and the fiercely experimental approach of his Japanese New Wave contemporaries.

The final entry in the trilogy, Poem, returns to black and white and is centred on the austere existence of a young houseboy who becomes helplessly embroiled in the schemes of two brothers. Written by Toshir˘ Ishid˘ (screenwriter of Nagisa ďshima's The Sun's Burial and Sh˘hei Imamura s Black Rain), who also penned This Transient Life and Mandala, Poem continues the trilogy s exploration of faith in a post-industrial world.

 

Bonus Blu-Ray disc with Jiss˘ji's 1974 feature It Was A Faint Dream, which continues the themes explored in the Trilogy.

Posters

Theatrical Release: 1970-1974 (Japan)

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Distribution Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime

This Transient Life: 2:23:39.846

Mandara: 2:15:25.242

Poem:  Extended: 2:16:33.351  Theatrical: 1:59:18.522

It Was a Faint Dream: 1:59:35.001     

Video

This Transient Life

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,767,677,700 bytes

Feature: 43,507,902,630 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Mandara

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,580,270,744 bytes

Feature: 40,982,946,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.83 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Video

Poem

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,867,200,226 bytes

Extended: 26,489,024,832 bytes

Theatrical: 20,389,500,334

Video Bitrate: 19.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

It Was a Faint Dream

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 35,118,537,446 bytes

Feature: 34,890,006,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.82 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate This Transient Life Blu-ray:

Bitrate Mandara Blu-ray:

Bitrate Poem Blu-ray:

Bitrate It Was a Faint Dream Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentaries:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Arrow

 

This Transient Life

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,767,677,700 bytes

Feature: 43,507,902,630 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Mandara

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,580,270,744 bytes

Feature: 40,982,946,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.83 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Poem

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,867,200,226 bytes

Extended: 26,489,024,832 bytes

Theatrical: 20,389,500,334

Video Bitrate: 19.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

It Was a Faint Dream

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 35,118,537,446 bytes

Feature: 34,890,006,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.82 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Ľ Both the 120-minute Theatrical and 137-minute Extended versions of Poem
Ľ Bonus Blu-Ray disc with Jiss˘ji's 1974 feature It Was A Faint Dream, which continues the themes explored in the Trilogy
Ľ Introductions to all three films by David Desser (Mandala - 10:39, Poem - 9:50, Transient - 10:17), author of Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave
Ľ Scene-select commentaries on all three films by Desser
Ľ Theatrical trailer for Mandara (2:36)
Ľ Theatrical trailer for Poem (4:28)
Ľ Limited edition packaging, fully illustrated by maarko phntm
Illustrated 80-page perfect-bound collector s book featuring new writings on the film by Anton Bitel and Tom Mes


Blu-ray Release Date:
August 19th, 2019
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Arrow Blu-ray (August 2019): Arrow have transferred Akio Jiss˘ji's Buddhist Trilogy to Blu-ray. Each film gets its own Blu-ray with This Transient Life (1970), Mandara (1971) and Poem (1972) and the set includes a 4th Blu-ray of Asaki yumemishi (1974) It Was a Faint Dream also directed by Jiss˘ji'. They are all dual-layered with high bitrates except Poem where the disc is shared by both Extended (2 1/4 hour) and Theatrical (2-hour) cuts of the film in their own separate transfer (not seamlessly-branched.) It looks to me like these are as good as the available sources - and the image quality appears authentic. We have posted some random screen captures below to give you an idea of the 1080P quality. They all look fine in-motion, on my system, but there was some odd sequences in It Was a Faint Dream (unfortunately the only one without a commentary) because I couldn't tell whether the warped-look was intentional or a function of the condition. I suspect the former as I have never seen damage like it - a sample is the third last captures below. Otherwise this is at Arrow's usual professional video standard.

 

On their Blu-rays, Arrow use a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) in the original Japanese language. For all three films in the Buddist Trilogy the score is by Toru Fuyuki (Super Inframan), and has a classical, traditional and avant-garde 'feel' using violas, violins and harpsichords. It sounds reasonably consistent in the uncompressed. Arrow offer optional English subtitles (see sample below) on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

 

Arrow include scene-select commentaries on all three films by David Desser (author of Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema). He is great discussing such topics as calligraphy, tradition over modernity, sex, nudity, sets, props, costumes, cameras movement - dollies, cranes, cut-aways, ellipses, the avant-garde approach, challenging cultural, sexual norms, patterns of the films, 90 degree cuts, use of space, framing (use of the entire frame - referencing Ozu - plugging his own book Cambridge Film Handbooks' Ozu's Tokyo Story), time (sound of clocks) and so much more. But there are not for the full three Buddhist Trilogy features but have gaps and are picked-up later. It is very educational and I liked his manner. Desser also gives 10-minute introductions to all three films which are good to watch prior to your first viewing to get some perspective. There are theatrical trailers for Mandara, Poem and the inclusion of the fourth film, It Was a Faint Dream on its own bare-bones Blu-ray with only a trailer as a supplement The limited edition packaging, fully illustrated by maarko phntm, has an illustrated 80-page perfect-bound collector s book featuring new writings on the film by Anton Bitel and Tom Mes.

I didn't find this as artsy as, say, Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism - maybe not as 'taboo' (although there is plenty) and it was still extremely interesting with inventive cinematographic techniques, pushing limits, start black and white photography, probing close-ups etc. and the Arrow Blu-ray set is something to digest over time. The commentaries were of great benefit to this reviewer - and I expect many will feel the same. I love having something like this in the library when I feel at my most adventurous and crave some avant-garde Japanese cinema. Recommended to the right crowd. 

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 


This Transient Life

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


Mandara

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


Poem
 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


It Was a Faint Dream

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

  

 

Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

    

Distribution Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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