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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Japanese PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

Gate of Hell

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Teinosuke Kinugasa
Starring: Kazuo Hasegawa, Machiko Kyo, Isao Yamagata, Yataro Kurokawa, Kotaro Bando, Koreya Senda
1953 | 89 Minutes | Licensor: Kadokawa Herald Pictures

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #653
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: April 9, 2013
Review Date: April 7, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

A winner of Academy Awards for best foreign-language film and best costume design, Gate of Hell is a visually sumptuous, psychologically penetrating work from Teinosuke Kinugasa. In the midst of epic, violent intrigue in twelfth-century Japan, an imperial warrior falls for a lady-in-waiting; after he discovers she is married, he becomes frenzied in his attempts to win her love. Kinugasa's film, an early triumph of color cinematography in Japan, is an unforgettable, tragic story of obsession and unrequited passion.

Forum members rate this film 8.5/10

 

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PICTURE

Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Gate of Hell has gone through an impressive restoration and is delivered to Blu-ray by Criterion on a single-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of about 1.37:1. The high-definition transfer is delivered in 1080p/24hz.

Despite winning a couple of Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Film, Gate of Hell was hard to come by on home video with the only release I know of in North America being a VHS release from Home Vision Entertainment (the Masters of Cinema label would release the film on Blu-ray in the UK.) Some of the problems could be related to apparent troubles with the original source: an early colour film from Japan, the film had supposedly deteriorated over the years with the colours severely fading. The film went through a vigorous restoration in 2011 and that’s what has been used as the source for this release.

There’s a heavy golden hue to the film, which I’m guessing is intentional (admittedly I have not seen the film before) but the colours overall look absolutely wonderful. There are plenty of blues, greens, oranges, reds, purples, sharing the screen at any given time and they’re beautifully rendered, absolutely vibrant, just jumping off of the screen. Any apparent issues with colour are obviously now gone. Black levels are decent but not great; some night scenes present some minor crushing.

The digital transfer looks very good itself, with no apparent digital problems or artifacts. The image is fairly sharp throughout, with a few softer sequences here and there that I blame more on the source. The source has some other minor blemishes and marks but there’s nothing of big concern here.

It was a long wait but it was worth it. The transfer looks beautiful.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Audio is about what one would expect from a film around 60 years old. The lossless linear 1.0 PCM mono track is pretty clean and free of noise, but it still manages to show its age: dialogue is a bit weak and the music can be severely distorted and edgy during some moments.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Despite the awards and general acclaim Criterion has seen fit to give the film a featureless release. The only feature is a “new English subtitle translation” that has a spelling mistakes: “No on can move another’s heart by force” instead of “No one can move another’s heart by force.” Thankfully the insert includes an excellent essay on the film by Stephen Prince.

1/10

CLOSING

It’s disappointing nothing of note is included for supplements but Criterion’s presentation and the lower price point makes this worth picking up.


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