664 The Life of Oharu

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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Matango
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#26 Post by Matango » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:05 pm

Time to upgrade my old Criterion two-disc CLV laserdisc I guess.

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david hare
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#27 Post by david hare » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:51 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:I hope this will look as good as it deserves to look. Tanaka is outstanding (even more than her norm). Extra points to those who can recognize Mifune in his important (but brief) part.
SpoilerShow
the lap dissolve from Tanaka at the beginning of the picture when she takes shelter in the Buddhist temple and gazes at the statue of Buddha. from which Mizo lap dissolves to her beautiful first love, none other than...
I can't wait for this, after decades of crap third rate, third gen damaged prints from Schochiku, and equally crap video transfers from everyone, finally something worthy of what I consider Mizo's greatest film.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#28 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:14 am

David -- as I recall, one does also see Mifune earlier as well -- though he is very hard to recognize. ;~}

I share your anticipation.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#29 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:14 pm

I must be a cheap date and easy... I just pulled my AEye out to refresh myself with this film as it'd been a few years, and. . . I dunno- the element for this film, and the presentation (minus the burnt subs) looks virtually like any other Mizo that's out there, and very similar to dozens of other Toho masters (this isn't a Shochiku film).

Of course it lacks the MTIing and especially black boosting (thus the contrast is a touch flat), but this looks like an endless litany of other Ozus, Mizos, and others from the era. I don't see the total wreck others see, but rather a status quo for the type.

And yep, that is one youuunnng Mifune in there. Not as young as Drunken Angel etc, but quite boyish indeed!

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david hare
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#30 Post by david hare » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:36 pm

There used to be such wonderful prints of this over the years (my bad re Toho) but that's the problem for dinosaurs like me who remember the amazing Mizo retrospectives in Sydney, London, Melbourne and NYC in the 70s. My memory is strong enough to recall this as a glowing beautiful thing visually and I've hated all the video transfers (all from an indentical source, clearly.) Like a lot of things, Blue Angel being the latest example for me, suddenly getting a high quality source is a compelling reason to re-assess a film I've been cool about. I actually think it's Yoda's best screenplay too. And Tanaka!!!! Christ!!!!!

As for the young Tosh, Hubba Hubba!

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andyli
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#31 Post by andyli » Fri May 03, 2013 5:35 pm

The introductory commentary turns out to be:
The Criterion Collection wrote:New audio commentary for the opening of the movie by film scholar Dudley Andrew

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andyli
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#32 Post by andyli » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:03 am


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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#33 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:35 am

If the screen shots are representative, I'd have to say that this looks a LOT better than I anticipated. I wonder if Criterion found a better source than has been available for previous home video releases (and even prints).

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hearthesilence
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#34 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:50 pm

They worked similar miracles with The Music Room, and for that title they were using some sort of new process/machine. I wonder if that's the case here as well?

Jack Phillips
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#35 Post by Jack Phillips » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:22 pm

Gary states: "The Life of Oharu is a touching and indiscreet examination of human violation, suffering, and humiliation." And then he goes on to show, in his final screen cap, Oharu in her nun's attire, quite beyond suffering and humiliation. She even has the rosary-like beads in one hand which Buddhists use to chant with. Yes, violation, suffering, and humiliation are part of the story--but they aren't the whole of it.

Zot!
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#36 Post by Zot! » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:49 pm

Jack Phillips wrote:Gary states: "The Life of Oharu is a touching and indiscreet examination of human violation, suffering, and humiliation." And then he goes on to show, in his final screen cap, Oharu in her nun's attire, quite beyond suffering and humiliation. She even has the rosary-like beads in one hand which Buddhists use to chant with. Yes, violation, suffering, and humiliation are part of the story--but they aren't the whole of it.


Gary's reviews are focused on the technical aspect of the discs. Usually the plot summaries are borrowed from other sources and his comments are typically candid and informal. I wouldn't get too hung up on it.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#37 Post by Jack Phillips » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:16 pm

Zot! wrote:
Jack Phillips wrote:Gary states: "The Life of Oharu is a touching and indiscreet examination of human violation, suffering, and humiliation." And then he goes on to show, in his final screen cap, Oharu in her nun's attire, quite beyond suffering and humiliation. She even has the rosary-like beads in one hand which Buddhists use to chant with. Yes, violation, suffering, and humiliation are part of the story--but they aren't the whole of it.


Gary's reviews are focused on the technical aspect of the discs. Usually the plot summaries are borrowed from other sources and his comments are typically candid and informal. I wouldn't get too hung up on it.
I'm not. Gary tends to represent the consensus view of things. My point is that the consensus view in this case (I should say, maybe, the consensus view outside of Asia) doesn't cover the film in its entirety, to the point where the significance of the final scene is ignored. Anyone who looks at that final screen cap and doesn't know what they're looking at doesn't understand the film.

Zot!
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#38 Post by Zot! » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:25 pm

Gotcha, I have not seen this in a long time, so you've convinced me to revisit, thanks!

Emilio
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#39 Post by Emilio » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:01 pm

andyli wrote:Beaver.
That looks terrific, filmic and the amount of details is just amazing...!

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david hare
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#40 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:01 am

The disc of the year. The improvements are physically palpable. Although it looks like the print supplied by Toho is a second or third gen positive (strong contrast popping on dissolves which Crit have substantially tamed) the image looks for the world like they were able to wet gate print it and remove 90% of the heavy debris with that process. Of course digital tools allow complete frame movement stability and the unfolding image down to blacks, contrast, detail, fine grain is the best I have ever seen for this great, sublime masterpiece.

I am also now abandoning my role as sex slave in waiting to Lars von Trier and want to have Dudley Andrew's babies. His intro commentary track and the longer video essay in the supplements (all stills, no video or motion captures in this extra perhaps because Toho and Shochiku wouldn't allow copyright clearance) are fine pieces of work. I have to say after all these years of great debt I owe to Andrew for his superb Mists of Regret book and the huge contribution he makes to analysis of prewar French cinema and Gremillon in particular, I could not imagine a more fluidly poetic commentator on Mizo, except perhaps Tag Gallagher. I admit I could listen Andrew reading the yellow pages, but I would have loved even more commentary here.

Exemplary. This is peak Criterion class and polish. Beau travail!

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#41 Post by Jack Phillips » Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:21 pm

From the end of the Criterion booklet essay “Not Reconciled,” by Gilberto Perez:
The film’s concluding shot follows [Oharu] as she goes from one house to another reciting a prayer for mercy, which a chorus on the soundtrack takes up as she moves along. The camera moving with her comes to a pause as she pauses and bows to a pagoda in the distance, but when she starts moving again, it does not keep pace, letting her leave view and at the same time ascending, so that the final image centers on the screen the pagoda pointing toward the sky. In his later years—he died of leukemia in 1956, at the age of fifty-eight—Mizoguchi was drawn to Buddhism. But the Buddhist recognition that suffering is inevitable does not mean resignation to injustice. In every circumstance she finds herself in, Oharu stands for an alternative to the dominant order. To the world she is soon to leave, she is surely not reconciled.
The author’s account of the final shot is well observed, but I question some of his conclusions. By the end of the film, reconciliation with the world is no longer Oharu’s concern. Her path has become one of renunciation.

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Lowry_Sam
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#42 Post by Lowry_Sam » Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:58 pm

Anyone know enough to assess the differences in translations? From the beaver's screen grabs, there looks to be a substantial difference:

I am nothing but a spectacle of an ill-fated woman. (Artificial Eye)

I think he was giving them a lesson in karmic retribution. (Criterion)

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david hare
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#43 Post by david hare » Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:07 pm

Jack Phillips wrote:From the end of the Criterion booklet essay “Not Reconciled,” by Gilberto Perez:
The film’s concluding shot follows [Oharu] as she goes from one house to another reciting a prayer for mercy, which a chorus on the soundtrack takes up as she moves along. The camera moving with her comes to a pause as she pauses and bows to a pagoda in the distance, but when she starts moving again, it does not keep pace, letting her leave view and at the same time ascending, so that the final image centers on the screen the pagoda pointing toward the sky. In his later years—he died of leukemia in 1956, at the age of fifty-eight—Mizoguchi was drawn to Buddhism. But the Buddhist recognition that suffering is inevitable does not mean resignation to injustice. In every circumstance she finds herself in, Oharu stands for an alternative to the dominant order. To the world she is soon to leave, she is surely not reconciled.
The author’s account of the final shot is well observed, but I question some of his conclusions. By the end of the film, reconciliation with the world is no longer Oharu’s concern. Her path has become one of renunciation.
Completely agree. Sarris described the last shot of Oharu wandering away from the camera out of the frame as the character now drifting off into infinity, after leaving behind her life story.

Wasn't the film made very much in the context of Mizo's fervent embrace of Buddhism? I certainly see her as having been enabled literally by the film's structure and its mise en scene (one composed entirely of narrative recollection) to leave life behind. And I think this is totally distinct from some sort of "redemptive" reading. The whole thrust of the film's meaning is expressed in the elision of shot by movement - pans, cranes, etc - and dissolves/transitions/montages from images of Buddhas and saints to the face of Oharu herself and her lovers. All this sets up a reality in which attachment to the present is the actual illusion, while reference, memory and death are the realities. Dudley Andrew has a lovely turn of phrase during the opening sequence in the temple with Oharu entering the frame in a reverse parallel travelling shot to the previous travelling shot of the wall of "Saints" and the delicate but insistent reverse angles between Oharu and the images of the Buddha saints (reverse angles being almost unknown in Mizo's entire mise en scene) so that the film establishes a fantastic synergy between parallel reverse movements forward an backward, and the relationship of the human to the super human, (the "eternal") and the absolute complicity of enabling this sublime imagery between the director, the actor and the camera.

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AidanKing
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#44 Post by AidanKing » Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:41 am

Dudley Andrew's BFI Film Classic on Sansho Dayu (co-written with Carole Cavanaugh) is also pretty good.

I think David's wonderful analysis above clearly shows one of the things I love about Mizoguchi, which is that form is absolutely inseparable from content in his work and that both form and content work together and re-inforce each other to provide the meaning of his films. Robin Wood's and David Bordwell's styles of criticism seem to both work equally well for Mizoguchi but a synthesis of the two would be best.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#45 Post by Jack Phillips » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:39 pm

Speaking of Dudley Andrew, he mentions in his commentary that Kon Ichikawa made a film (a kind of docu-drama, I gather) about Tanaka called Actress which ends with the making of Oharu. (Andrew explains that, even though it wasn't Tanaka's last film, Ichikawa felt it was the summit of her creative life, and therefore a good place to end). Well, that being the case, wouldn't Actress have been the ideal supplement for this release? OK, it's a 130 minute film--what about an excerpt pertaining to the making of Oharu? I can't believe Criterion is holding this back to give it its own individual release.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#46 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:42 pm

I've seen Ichikawa's film (script by Shindo) and thought it was pretty much rubbish. It seemed exploitative more than it seemed to "honor" Tanaka. (It didn't help that it had an even worse score tyhan the Makioka Sisters).

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movielocke
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#47 Post by movielocke » Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:40 am

I paused this halfway through to take a breather from unrelenting misery--though granted the scene of dismissing all the girls of Kyoto for non existant flaws was the highlight of the first half. So far the film opens at a piercing nine and then quickly ratchets the suffering up to ten and then leaves it there for the rest of the picture, I think I am now tone deaf, as dreaded Mizoguchi-fatigue set in faster than it has on any other picture. I must admit to a bitter, sobbing laugh just after the birth of the son, when she's happy for four or five seconds, because I knew I was watching a Mizoguchi film and happiness is only an illusion. Happiness is Mizoguchi's favorite manipulative tool, it is used to maximize the punishment levied on the audience, so I gave a bitter laugh and took the Mizoguchi sucker punch that followed the one or two seconds of happiness Oharu was unfortunate enough to experience.

I read the booklet and this thread because I figured knowing what the next steps of misery, shit and degradation were coming might make them easier to take.

Here's to round 2, starting up soon, the slog of slogs

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#48 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:51 pm

movielocke -- Have you seen Crucified Lovers? Paradoxically, knowing the couple is doomed from the outset allows an occasional lighter mood (even some humor, albeit often grim) and the nature of the suffering _feels_ different somehow. (My favorite Mizoguchi -- and also AK's favorite).

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domino harvey
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#49 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:05 pm

I will never understand people who stop a movie halfway through to come here and post about it

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#50 Post by Kauno » Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:37 pm

domino harvey wrote:I will never understand people who stop a movie halfway through to come here and post about it
We must be stupid, don't kill me cold.

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