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Kurosawa documentary DVD - any good ?


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#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Deepak Shenoy

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Posted April 21 2002 - 01:21 AM

Wellspring (formerly known as Fox Lorber) is releasing a Kurosawa documentary (which I am guessing is the same as the one that aired on PBS recently). The release date is 4/23. I was wondering if anyone has had a chance to check out the DVD. If so, how are the picture and sound quality ?

The DVD is supposed to have 90 additional minutes of interview footage. Is this edited back into the documentary, or presented as supplemental material ? (most sites list the runtime as 215 minutes)

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 21 2002 - 05:09 AM

That much extra? Sweet! Even if it's not in there, I'm picking this up. This was a GREAT documentary

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted April 22 2002 - 12:28 AM

Can anybody give me a link to a website so that I can purchase this straight away

Much obliged

Oscar
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#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 22 2002 - 04:06 AM

It comes out on Tuesday at retailers everywhere. Just do a search of the usual online stores

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted April 22 2002 - 07:58 PM

Jeff

Much obliged and will pick this up

Oscar

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#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Craig Cunningham

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Posted April 25 2002 - 01:00 AM

This documentary is excellent. All Kurosawa fans should consider buying it. I gained some real insights into the man and his approach to filmmaking. But I am very disappointed this disc is not enhanced for widescreens. Posted Image

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Craig Cunningham

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Posted April 25 2002 - 08:36 PM

The package has easter eggs listed as a special feature. Has anyone discovered them yet?

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted April 25 2002 - 11:50 PM

Hi guys

Here in Edinburgh, Scotland they will show 12 new prints of Kurosawa during the months of may/june
http://www.filmhousecinema.com/

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Akira Kurosawa
The name of Akira Kurosawa immediately conjures up the image of a growling Japanese samurai warrior, sword at the ready * and most likely played by Toshiro Mifune. Not surprisingly since Kurosawa, himself descended from a samurai clan, directed some of the most famous, exciting and dynamic samurai movies ever made. His acute pictorial sense, epic vision and muscular, energetic camera technique made him the ideal action-film director. But Kurosawa was more than a maker of action movies. His samurai films, exciting though they are, always carry a strong moral subtext, and all his films are imbued with his passionate moral and humanist concerns. The bfi's release of a dozen major Kurosawa films includes, along with many of his best-loved period classics, several of the films in which he tackled the social problems * street-crime, corruption, political double-dealing * of modern-day Japan. - Philip Kemp



Ticket Deals
See all 12 films in the season for £36/£24 concession
See any 6 films in the season for £24£15 concession




Yojimbo

Fri 10 to Mon 13 May (not Sat)

Japan 1961 · 110 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai.

Corruption, graft and bribery, now seen as comedy, when a masterless samurai strolls into town and gets half the baddies to obliterate the other half. Exhilarating, surprising, kinetic and always funny, the picture gives us a very human hero who, as Kurosawa said, 'is different from us. He's able to stand squarely in the middle and stop the fight.' - NFT brochure.

Rashomon

Fri 10 to Mon 13 May

Japan 1950 · 88 mins Subtitles · 12
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune.

Two Akutagawa stories, a Shinobu Hashimoto script and Kazuo Miyagawa's photography make this story of rape and murder into a multi-stranded narrative which questions not only truth but also reality itself, as four characters, all witness to the same incident, tell radically different stories of what happened, all of which could be true. Kurosawa here protests the human condition in a picture which is part murder-mystery, part metaphysical meditation, and mostly pure magic. - NFT brochure.

Throne of Blood

Fri 10 to Mon 13 May

Japan 1957 · 110 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada.

Called by many the finest of all film versions of Shakespeare, this rendering of 'Macbeth' demonstrates precisely how power corrupts, and does so with a prodigality of invention - a single witch but one straight from the Noh, an even more frightening Lady Macbeth, and a fully imagined warlord-ridden medieval civilisation with a forest that really moves. - NFT brochure.

Drunken Angel

Tue 14 to Thu 16 May

Japan 1948 · 98 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune.

The angel is an alcoholic doctor, the demon is a tubercular gangster, and they battle it out in postwar Tokyo. Vital, exciting, morally complex, this brilliantly realised film is in a way Kurosawa's 'first'. Of it he said: 'In this picture, I was finally myself. It was my picture. I was doing it and no-one else.' - NFT brochure.

The Bad Sleep Well

Tue 14 to Thu 16 May

Japan 1960 · 151 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Mori Masayuki.

For this first film made by his own production company, Kurosawa said he 'wanted to make a movie of some social significance.' So he did: corruption, graft, bribery at the public level, the connivance of corporations and government. A true revenger tragedy (the gloss on 'Hamlet' is intended), it is Kurosawa's most socially responsible film. - NFT brochure.

Stray Dog

Tue 14 to Thu 16 May

Japan 1949 · 122 mins Subtitles · 12
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura.

A crook robs a cop, snags his pistol and leads him on a wonderfully labyrinthine chase through a Tokyo under reconstruction. When they finally meet, however, cop and robber are revealed as one - both men motivated by much the same needs. Here the entwined nature of good and evil, an important Kurosawa theme, makes a major appearance. - NFT brochure.

The Hidden Fortress

Fri 31 May to Sun 2 Jun

Japan 1958 · 139 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara.

Kurosawa long had an affection for the ordinary, escapist, frivolous historical spectacular - the chambara - and here he makes a wonderfully sly one of his own. The dethroned but still imperious princess and her faithful general somehow get through enemy lines, more hindered than helped by two greedy bumpkins who get themselves involved in the exciting complications of a plot which so appealed to the director of Star Wars that he lifted it totally.

Sanjuro

Fri 31 May to Sun 2 Jun

Japan 1962 · 96 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yuzo Kayama.

After the success of Yojimbo, Kurosawa used the same protagonist to take on corruption in high places, creating a spirited satirical comedy which cuts deep into bushido, the 'way of the warrior'. Not only does Sanjuro have the crooks in the castle, he must also cope with a boy-scout samurai troupe. Lots of tongue-in-cheek derring-do and a deliciously bloody finale.

Seven Samurai

Sun 2 to Tue 4 Jun

Japan 1954 · 198 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune.

A band of masterless samurai save a group of farmers from bandits and learn that - though the bad guys are dead and peace has arrived - they didn't win after all. The Hashimoto/Oguri/Kurosawa script is wonderfully detailed and the final reel is one of the glories of world cinema.

Red Beard

Mon 3 & Tue 4 Jun

Japan 1965 · 185 mins Subtitles · cert tbc
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, Terumi Niki.

Kurosawa's first bildungsroman: a young intern learns hard love from his red-bearded superior and in the process finds himself. Their relationship, much like the one in Drunken Angel, is seen against a marvellously detailed recreation of late Edo Japan, an earthquake, and a sentiment which is never sentimental.

Record of a Living Being (I Live in Fear)

Wed 5 & Thu 6 Jun

Japan 1955 · 104 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura.

Kurosawa said that the film is about 'this social problem'. It certainly is - how to live with the atom bomb. A factory owner wants to emigrate, his selfish family doesn't and eventually has him incarcerated. The inherent didacticism of the film is much mitigated by attention to minute detail, by fine ensemble acting, and by the sheer size of the man's motivation.

Ikiru
(To Live)

Wed 5 & Thu 6 Jun

Japan 1952 · 143 mins Subtitles · PG
Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Kyoko Seki.

A celebration of the intrinsic nobility of human nature as a humble civil servant, following a drunken bout of panic, aimless wandering, and odd encounters on learning that he is dying of cancer, finally discovers a meaning to his empty life by patiently pushing through a project to turn a city dump into a children's playground. An intensely moving film all the same, elegiac and sometimes quirkishly funny in the manner of Kurosawa's elective model, John Ford. - Time Out.

I saw recently Rashomon, Yojimbo, Sanjuro and Throne of Blood with a Q&A, so looks like a couple more to see especially Hidden Fortress and Red Beard.

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#9 of 34 OFFLINE   John Kwong

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Posted April 25 2002 - 11:55 PM

Just picked this up yesterday and "scanned" through it. Here are some more details:

Letterbox: 1.85:1 - including the bonus interviews

Easter Eggs - Kursorawa's commercials for Suntory Special Reserve (I found about 6 so far)

Bonus Interviews - It states that there is 90 mins of bonus interview fotage and was edited by Teruyo Nogami. They are listed as:
  • Costume and set
  • Actors and Mifune
  • Light and shadow
  • Shooting for editing
  • Spirit of swordplay
  • Western Samurai's
  • "Dodes'kaden" Onward
  • Highs and Lows
I haven't really had time to look through all of the disc but it looks very impressive. The documentary is shot in High Definition and looks fab. I'd highly reccommend this to anyone who is interested in Kurosawa! Posted Image Posted Image

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   JimNorton

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Posted June 06 2002 - 06:49 AM

I don't understand the belly-aching about this program. It was shot in HD for TELEVISION! This was not a feature film, it was a TV program for PBS. We're lucky they shot it on HD.
Once again...this was shown on TV!! I agree and understnad the complaints about Wellspring's DVDs when it is a feature film, but this is now getting ridiculous - crying for crying sake.

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted June 06 2002 - 07:42 AM

What does it matter that it was shown on TV, Jim? Why does that make it less worthy of a quality presentation?

It was shot hi-def 16x9; seems like the perfect candidate for 16x9 enhancement.

Just out of curiosity, Jim, why do you think Wellspring didn't think it was worth an enhanced transfer? And do you think this release evinces the commitment to quality they've been exclaiming of late?
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#12 of 34 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted June 06 2002 - 07:48 AM

Quote:
It was shot in HD for TELEVISION!

Once again...this was shown on TV!!


Since when are HD & TV mutually exclusive? There is such a thing as HDTV broadcast, and many people watch it. Additionally, many programs shot HD for TV broadcast are presented on DVD with anamorphic enhancement. What makes Kurosawa different in any of these respects?

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#13 of 34 OFFLINE   Coressel

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Posted June 06 2002 - 09:47 AM

Quote:
I don't understand the belly-aching about this program


I must have missed that reel...

Who's complaining? I will definately grab this DVD on Tuesday!

#14 of 34 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted June 06 2002 - 08:38 PM

Thanks for reminding me that this one

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#15 of 34 OFFLINE   JimNorton

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Posted June 08 2002 - 08:36 AM

I mean no disrespect to anyone in the forum, maybe I just don't understand.

It just seems to me that everyone here is so focused on negatives and would rather moan about something than appreciate it. Do you see any other company willing to put out this title? No, becaue the profit margin is nill; the fact that we are able to get these titles at all, thanks to smaller, little companies like Wellspring is a blessing; but no one even understands that.

Maybe the reason that Wellspring didn't enhance it is because of profit margin or maybe they didn't have the money to make it anamorphic. It is after all a business, these companies aren't out there to make you happy; let's face it, they are out there to make money. Hopefully in the process they can make us happy while making money but that's not always the case.

I'm a huge sports fan and would have liked my Twins to sign Jason Giambi but they just didn't have the money. Sometimes these companies aren't as sinister as everyone thinks

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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Posted June 08 2002 - 10:14 AM

Quote:
It just seems to me that everyone here is so focused on negatives and would rather moan about something than appreciate it.

Jim, even though your post count only says 10 I was assuming that you understood how the forum works and had been coming to the forum for awhile and only recently decided to join. Anyway what I am getting at is.....yeah that's pretty much what goes on around herePosted Image
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#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted June 08 2002 - 10:49 AM

Quote:
but no one even understands that.


You're not going to get your point across very well here by declaring that you're the only person who understands things.

Why the financial argument doesn't make any sense: if Kurosawa was shot on HD, an HD master already exists. It is therefore no more expensive for them to transfer it anamorphically to DVD than non-anamorphically. Anamorphic transfers only cost more when a new HD master needs to be struck; when an HD master already exists, there are no extra costs. Perhaps, however, they were not suppled with an HD master.

Perhaps your argument would've fared better earlier if you had discussed Wellspring's reasoning being financial rather than announcing that "this was shown on TV!!", which really has nothing to do with whether or not it should be transferred anamorphically to DVD.

DJ

#18 of 34 OFFLINE   JohnAD

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Posted June 08 2002 - 03:30 PM

Quote:
Sometimes these companies aren't as sinister as everyone thinks


Actually, Fox Lorber *is* as evil as people think. Their MO is basically to put out sub-par releases of good foreign films. I haven't seen the Kurosawa documentary, so I can't comment on that, but from past experience, there's a good chance that they'll pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

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#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Philip Klein

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Posted June 09 2002 - 03:34 AM

Quote:
It is after all a business, these companies aren't out there to make you happy; let's face it, they are out there to make money. Hopefully in the process they can make us happy while making money but that's not always the case.


Wrong, if a business wants customers they better try to make them happy. This should be their first priority, or they wont be in business for long.
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#20 of 34 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted June 09 2002 - 04:29 AM

This documentary will be shown next saturday on BBC1 or 2 in two parts.

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