653 Gate of Hell

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Jeff
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653 Gate of Hell

#1 Post by Jeff » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:59 pm

Gate of Hell

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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; even after he discovers she is married, he goes to extreme lengths to win her love. Kinugasa’s film is an unforgettable, tragic story of obsession and unrequited passion that was an early triumph of color cinematography in Japan.

Disc Features

- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince

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MichaelB
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#2 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:08 pm

So assuming this is exactly the same transfer as the MoC (bar superficial tweaking), it really boils down to whether you prefer your booklet to be written by Stephen Prince or a Philip Kemp/Carl Theodor Dreyer double-act.

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Tommaso
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#3 Post by Tommaso » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:18 pm

Or to which cover design you prefer: for me it would be MoC all the way... But in any case this new transfer is such a beauty. Those colours! Almost makes you forget that the film is not amongst the truly greatest achievements of Japanese cinema in the 50s perhaps.

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Finch
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#4 Post by Finch » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:00 pm

Would have replaced the MoC if Criterion had bothered to offer anything beyond the Prince contribution but as it is, this is only going to appeal to those who are still region A-locked. And Criterion's cover is painful to look at, to boot. (MoC's cover design has not been as consistently wonderful since Nick left and there've even been some howlers, i.e. giant text obscuring most of a rather nice image on Trouble in Paradise, THAT Bakumatsu taiyo-den artwork and the Yamanaka set cover that looks like it was put together in 10 minutes, but the Gate of Hell front cover was one of last year's absolute finest)

PS.: Agree that Gate of Hell is not a truly great film, especially compared against the best of that decade, but it's still a very fine film in its own right. And most people would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful-looking film from the 50s or any decade thereafter.

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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#5 Post by Cinephrenic » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:36 pm

No Page of Madeness?

yoshimori
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#6 Post by yoshimori » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:50 pm

Cinephrenic wrote:No Page of Madeness?
Agreed. [Assuming you're being rhetorical, of course.] And no Crossroads. Oh well. No surprise.

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Drucker
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#7 Post by Drucker » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:08 am

Bluray.com review.

Svet says no noticeable differences between Criterion and MoC.

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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#8 Post by movielocke » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:44 pm

This was just a stunning movie to watch--for the color work. It's so very well thoughtout and impactful, it's a spectacular use of the dimension that color adds. The film itself is very very good overall, but it is so gorgeous that I sometimes found myself just drinking in the images and ignoring the subtitles for whole lengthy swathes of the film. But that's not a huge problem because the performances and the visual language of the film communicate the full story without needing much of the script. Perhaps because I absorbed the film visually, but I was struck throughout that to me it was hampered by my lack of belief in the characters' relationship to Kesa. It seemed to have more of a coded affair between Morito and Wataru than between either of them and Kesa. But in all probability a queer reading of the relationships is probably wholely unmerited.

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Drucker
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#9 Post by Drucker » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:00 pm

I'm pretty sure this is the film Dreyer is referring to in the audio piece included as a supplement in the Criterion edition of Vampyr, where he calls this one of (if not the only?) color film that uses color in a meaningful way (I wish I remembered the exact adjective he uses). He does say Hell's Gate, but I have to assume this is the film he was talking about. He finds that too many films use color to just reproduce reality, instead of using it creatively.

I've yet to see this film, but it's certainly near the top of my to-buy list, and it sounds like your review confirms what I'm looking forward to.
Last edited by Drucker on Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#10 Post by MichaelB » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:04 pm

Drucker wrote:I'm pretty sure this is the film Dreyer is referring to in the audio piece included as a supplement in the Criterion edition of Vampyr, where he calls this one of (if not the only?) color film that uses color in a meaningful way (I wish I remembered the exact adjective he uses). He does say Hell's Gate[/b], but I have to assume this is the film he was talking about. He finds that too many films use color to just reproduce reality, instead of using it creatively.

The MoC edition includes Dreyer's piece on the film in the booklet.

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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#11 Post by movielocke » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:08 pm

What is the correct translation of Jigokumon 地獄門 Is it in fact the Gate of Hell referenced a couple times in the film? would it have been better to leave it untranslated like Rashomon?

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domino harvey
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#12 Post by domino harvey » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:09 pm

Criterion releases films under their best-known title in America, so no

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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#13 Post by knives » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:12 pm

movielocke wrote:What is the correct translation of Jigokumon 地獄門 Is it in fact the Gate of Hell referenced a couple times in the film?
Gate of Hell as I understand it is about as accurate as one could get at least literally (I'm sure it has a more idiomatic intent). The use of 'of' and the placement of hell seems to be left over from a Spanish or Italian translation though.

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Shrew
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#14 Post by Shrew » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:16 pm

It's a perfectly fine translation. The strictest, most literal translation might give you "hellgate" or "earth-prison gate" but adding an "of" doesn't change the meaning at all, and it sounds better.

The horror film Jigoku could also just be called Hell, but in that case I think the original distributors probably wanted to set it apart by keeping a foreign sounding title. Like Domino said, Criterion usually just goes with the best-known title in the US (Bicycle Thieves being the notable, though generally lauded, exception).

Rashomon is harder to translate as it doesn't really mean anything, just the name of Kyoto's southern gate. The best alternative would be Rasho Gate. I guess it's a pun inherited from an earlier Noh play (no relation to the film/story's plot), where the original middle character is "jo" (city) replaced with "sho" (life), but that's nigh impossible to communicate in a translation.

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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#15 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:29 pm

Although Jigoku still has to not be confused with either its 1979 or 1999 remakes!

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manicsounds
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#16 Post by manicsounds » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:56 pm

movielocke wrote:What is the correct translation of Jigokumon 地獄門 Is it in fact the Gate of Hell referenced a couple times in the film? would it have been better to leave it untranslated like Rashomon?
"Hell-gate" is the literal meaning.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: 653 Gate of Hell

#17 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:38 pm

Bit of trivia if anyone's interested:

The historical events that background this film, the Ginpei war, the start of which we see during the film's opening, are also the same events whose ending is depicted in the Hoichi the Earless section of Kwaidan. The losing side of the boat battle in the latter film, the Heike/Taira clan, is also the side the main characters in Gate of Hell are on.

The whole war is narrated in one of the unsung (in the west) masterpieces of world literature, The Tale of the Heike, which I recommend absolutely everyone even mildly interested in Japanese literature or culture to read. And make sure it's in Royall Taylor's masterful translation, which on top of having many helpful paintings and illustrations, is translated in a really unique way: it uses an old score to determine how the different parts of the text were initially performed (eg. Hoichi's performances) and translates those parts into either poetry, prose, or recitative. Makes for a thrilling reading experience.

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