90 Kwaidan

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.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Martha
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: all up in thurr

90 Kwaidan

#1 Post by Martha » Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:38 am

Kwaidan

Image Image

After more than a decade of sober political dramas and social-minded period pieces, the great Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi shifted gears dramatically for this rapturously stylized quartet of ghost stories. Featuring colorfully surreal sets and luminous cinematography, these haunting tales of demonic comeuppance and spiritual trials, adapted from writer Lafcadio Hearn's collections of Japanese folklore, are existentially frightening and meticulously crafted. This version of Kwaidan is the original three-hour cut, never before released in the United States.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 2K digital restoration of director Masaki Kobayashi's original cut, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary by film historian Stephen Prince
• Interview from 1993 with Kobayashi, conducted by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda
• New interview with assistant director Kiyoshi Ogasawara
• New piece about author Lafcadio Hearn, on whose versions of Japanese folk tales Kwaidan is based
• Trailers
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien

Criterionforum.org user rating averages


User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#2 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:08 pm

In relation to some of the comments on the running time of Kwaidan on the Forum I thought I'd post this. I have just looked at the UK Tartan Video VHS of Kwaidan that in the write up on the back states that the film is "presented in its original widescreen ratio and in the long lost European feature length version of 154 minutes". The film contains the four stories: Shadowings, Snow Woman, The Story of Miminashi-Hoichi and In A Cup Of Tea. With PAL speedup taken into account it would seem that this is the same version that Criterion released, listed at 161 minutes on their website.

In the liner notes written by Alan Stanbrook on the Tartan Video release there is a mention about the running time: "Though the four stories stand for nothing but themselves, each is a triumph of wide-screen mise-en-scene. . . In this film Kobayashi's vaunted realism would have been entirely inappropriate. In total they push the running time out to some 2 hours 40 minutes, which at first was considered too long for Western tastes. When the film was first shown outside Japan the second story was omitted, reducing the film to 2 hours, but it is now cutomarily shown intact"

Perhaps this is where the confusion over the running time mentioned on the Forum has arisen from? It does suggest though that the Criterion is the complete version.

User avatar
Ashirg
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:10 am
Location: Atlanta

#3 Post by Ashirg » Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:27 pm

Yet, it doesn't explain running time of Japanese disc - 182 minutes. Or running time of Spanish disc - 183 minutes.

User avatar
davida2
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 8:16 am
Location: chapel hill, nc, usa

#4 Post by davida2 » Fri Dec 17, 2004 5:52 am

I actually just sent these in as 'title suggestions;' no feedback of any kind yet though.

I'd love to see some of Kobayashi's other work - there are numerous other things out of circulation, and I'd love to hear some feedback form anyone who may have seen some of his early work, or some of the post-'Samurai Rebellion' films...

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#5 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:16 am

Ashirg wrote:Yet, it doesn't explain running time of Japanese disc - 182 minutes. Or running time of Spanish disc - 183 minutes.
Ah, sorry about that! I'd forgotten about the even longer running time. This Japanese site lists it at 182 minutes, but also says that the film only contains the four stories.

So there is the possibility that a lot was cut out of one or all of the stories, or that the running time is a misprint that might have been wrongly posted on one website and then copied by other sites. Either way though its an interesting dilemma!

For example the book Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lacfido Hearn is listed at 182 pages on this site and this one - could there have been a mix up with book and film?

User avatar
Lino
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:18 am
Location: Sitting End
Contact:

#6 Post by Lino » Fri Feb 11, 2005 2:26 pm

To finally clear things up and to do us all a favour, I ordered the spanish DVD of this film and when it arrives be sure that I will tell you all if indeed there is a time difference (or any other difference) between the Criterion version and the other two.

Even if there isn't, I won't mind owning two copies of this beauty myself -this is one of my favorite horror films ever and a downright masterpiece to boot.

However, I do suspect that there is a difference and that the Criterion DVD is cut (the explanation might be that this is the international cut or even the american one): if you look closely at the trailer included, you can see that there is at least one shot missing from the feature - the one of a human figure running through a pink field.

More news when it does arrive.

User avatar
kortik
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:50 pm
Location: Seattle

#7 Post by kortik » Fri Feb 11, 2005 7:44 pm

Sweet let us know.
I know that CC verision is CUt.
Does spanish dvd has any eng subs? and where did you get it any links?

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#8 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 11, 2005 8:07 pm

The CC DVD represents the standard version that circulated for years. I'm not entirely certain how the extended version came to be. None of the Spanish DVDs of Japanese films have had English subs (so far). This is no exception. (Haven't seen this -- just based on reading).

MEK

User avatar
kortik
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:50 pm
Location: Seattle

#9 Post by kortik » Sat Feb 12, 2005 3:13 am

BTW why spelled KWAIDAN when in Japanese is KAIDAN?

User avatar
Lino
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:18 am
Location: Sitting End
Contact:

#10 Post by Lino » Sat Feb 12, 2005 6:22 am

I'm almost pretty sure it won't have english subs but it's fine by me as I can understand spanish.

I ordered it from www.dvdgo.com which I have been using for years now and they have never disapointed me. Efficient lot, they are!

About the pronounciation - no guesses from me, I'm afraid but how do you pronounce KAIDAN in engrish...? Maybe the "W" is there to help somehow...I don't know, I often have trouble with my own native language let alone deal with how do you speak japanese with an english accent... :lol:

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#11 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Feb 12, 2005 11:48 am

Kwaidan vs kaidan

"kwaidan" is presumably the original Chinese pronununciation of the kanji used for the title, while "kaidan" is the pronunciation used in modern Japanese.

Just like

"Yang Kwei Fei" = "Yokihi"

MEK

User avatar
kortik
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:50 pm
Location: Seattle

#12 Post by kortik » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:14 pm

ok

User avatar
Lino
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:18 am
Location: Sitting End
Contact:

#13 Post by Lino » Thu Feb 24, 2005 7:45 am

Annie Mall wrote: More news when it does arrive.
And it did today. I already did a quick fast-forward through it and indeed found some differences.

First of all let me just tell you that although this is probably taken from a new master, it doesn't show. Actually, I think that the Criterion is of better definition and that one was released how many years ago? Right...

Now off to the differences: on the first segment - Black Hair - I didn't notice any discrepancy between the CC and the spanish versions. The only thing missing is that blue title at the beginning of the feature announcing that this film won an award at Cannes that year.

However, it's in the second story - The Woman of the Snow - that the main differences are to be found. There is a nudity scene (clearly censored for international tastes), another where we see the mother breast-feeding a baby and another one still where we actually see the mother and their children visiting the grave of the mother-in-law (no clues for the deletion of that one...).

In the third segment - Hoichi the Earless - all I could spot was a scene involving the finding of a dead body on a beach that later in the story gets a funeral at sea (we see the funeral boat leaving the shore). My guess for the deletion of this one is that maybe they felt that this didn't affect the story that much and therefore wasn't essential.

There were no scenes deleted from the fourth segment - In a Cup of Tea - that I was aware of.

All in all, I think that the cuts were made in order for the film to be shorter (let's not forget that when it premiered in Cannes, only 3 segments were shown and this was the Director's wish as he felt that the film was too long for audiences). However, as you can see there are also ethical and moral reasons behind the cutting of some scenes and this to me seems to be the more logical explanation.

If you're feeling tempted to buy this (the longer cut), I think that the japanese edition is the better choice (though it doesn't have english subs) because I'm sure that the transfer will be of substantial better quality than the spanish one (which is a bit muddled and too dark in some scenes). Not only that, it actually have some extras (teaser, trailer, still galleries and a 12 minutes featurette on Lafacdio Hearn) as opposed to the spanish DVD which has none.

Anyway, hope I made some of you happy in finally clearing this up. I know I am.


edit: just one more thing - I still couldn't find that scene on the trailer where we see a human figure running through a pink field. Maybe this one was ultimately deleted from both versions?

User avatar
Pinback
J-Horror Junkie
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:50 pm

#14 Post by Pinback » Thu Feb 24, 2005 1:29 pm

Annie Mall wrote:And it did today. I already did a quick fast-forward through it and indeed found some differences...
Very useful post. I'm still unclear on one thing though: which version of Kwaidan reflects the director's intent? I'm very wary of the assumption that longer cut=director's cut. Is there any reason to think that the longer version is actually the one that Kobayashi felt most reflected his artistic vision?

User avatar
Lino
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:18 am
Location: Sitting End
Contact:

#15 Post by Lino » Thu Feb 24, 2005 1:57 pm

I'm afraid that is a tricky one. Well, so far we know that there are at least 3 versions: the one that premiered at Cannes (the shortest yet); the "international" one (as featured on the CC disc); and the "longer" cut (as featured on both the spanish and japanese discs).

We can only hope that some member knows the answer to this or knows a friend of a friend who knows what the story behind these differents cuts is and which is indeed the prefered Director's Cut.

My bet is that the japanese edition contains the version closer to Kobayashi's vision as especially the Woman of the Snow segment makes more sense now that I've seen it uncut. But who knows for sure?

User avatar
editman
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 4:13 pm

#16 Post by editman » Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:09 am

Bit the bullet and finally bought the R2J DVD. It is indeed the 182-minute version and it is different from the Criterion version.

Haven't watched it through yet but already spot the following:
Annie Mall wrote:Now off to the differences: on the first segment - Black Hair - I didn't notice any discrepancy between the CC and the spanish versions. The only thing missing is that blue title at the beginning of the feature announcing that this film won an award at Cannes that year.
Actually the end of the Black Hair segment is extended on the Japanese DVD. On Criterion it ends on a freeze frame of the samurai husband looking into his reflection on water. On the Japanese DVD, however, he staggered madly outside the ruin of the house, found a piece of red cloth(ing), which turned into a chuck of black hair and 'attacked' him.

(I actually saw this extended ending when I first watched Kwaidan on TV. I always wonder why it's missing on the Criterion DVD and if my mind was playing tricks on me. Now I've realised I actually first saw the full version before the 161-min version.)

Also, the Criterion DVD seems to be running on PAL speed. I roughly compared the length of the opening titles on both versions: Criterion clocks at 3:30min even including the Criterion and Janus Films logos and the Cannes Jury Prize title card (which is missing on the R2J). The R2J clocks at 3:38min.

And the Intermission title card between The Woman of the Snow and Hoichi, the Earless is missing on Criterion

User avatar
Lino
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:18 am
Location: Sitting End
Contact:

#17 Post by Lino » Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:44 am

editman wrote:Actually the end of the Black Hair segment is extended on the Japanese DVD. On Criterion it ends on a freeze frame of the samurai husband looking into his reflection on water. On the Japanese DVD, however, he staggered madly outside the ruin of the house, found a piece of red cloth(ing), which turned into a chuck of black hair and 'attacked' him.
I'm glad you mentioned that because just to check it out I went back to the spanish DVD and indeed the scene doesn't stop when he looks into the water. It goes on exactly like you said above. This one slipped under the rug...

However, there is no intermission title card to be seen between the Woman of the Snow segment and the Hoichi the Earless one. So, I guess that the japanese edition is the most complete yet to be available to the buying public. Shame about those subs, though...

BTW, how do the A/V fare? Are they a big notch up from the Criterion? And the extras, are they worthy of just filler?

User avatar
editman
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 4:13 pm

#18 Post by editman » Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:35 am

Annie Mall wrote:BTW, how do the A/V fare? Are they a big notch up from the Criterion? And the extras, are they worthy of just filler?
The R2J DVD looks way better than the Criterion version, which is infested with scratches and print damages, massive cropping (the R2J is app. 2.48:1 while Criterion is app. 2.28:1.) and apparent contrast boosting. Not sure which version has a more accurate colour (Criterion's blue-ish looks yellow-ish on R2J), but I'll bet I'll trust more on the R2J than Criterion considering how bad it is by comparison.

It is very apparent how awful the Criterion version is just by looking at the opening credits - on the R2J all title cards are black texts on white, whilst on the Criterion we have some looks blue-ish and some looks pinkish. This is probably another Playtime for Criterion, using an awful film print of the international cut which screams for a major re-release.

Funny that when the Eirin number appears beside the film title, I realised that the frame of the R2J DVD is cropped top and bottom - at about half way of the number, while the frame on Criterion looks stretched. That's the only complain I have about the R2J DVD, along with the fact that the Toho DVD uses lower bitrate (the DVDs 6.76GB whilst the Criterion is 7.66GB).

As for the extras, well Annie you've pretty much nailed it in your previous post. There are actually 2 teaser included (1 colour and 1 b/w, which includes a behind-the-scene footage of The Woman of the Snow). The still galleries includes Kobayashi's script, production photo album, the colour design sampler, and some linear notes. It's okay by me for a 1-disc release.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#19 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:38 am

Wow, that sounds brilliant! That's another one we can start lobbying for Criterion to rerelease. I'm actually glad the rumours were true and that theres a longer film out there.

User avatar
Pinback
J-Horror Junkie
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:50 pm

#20 Post by Pinback » Thu Dec 15, 2005 7:18 am

Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere. Australian DVD company Madman is releasing Kwaidan next year as part of their Eastern Eye catalogue. They list a runtime of 183.0 mins and promise that it's "The first UNCUT English subtitled version available worldwide."
Release Date: 15/03/2006

Audio tracks: Dolby Dual mono
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English subtitles
Runtime: 183.0 mins
Format: DVD, Region 4

DVD Special Features
The first UNCUT English subtitled version available worldwide
Original Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Production Teaser
Production Stills Gallery
Link

User avatar
daniel p
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:01 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

#21 Post by daniel p » Thu Dec 15, 2005 6:08 pm

Hopefully the transfer is up to scratch.

Although I am eternally grateful companies like Madman & Hopscotch are finally releasing classic world cinema in Australia (a few have been unavailable on any medium until recently), some of the releases have been below par. A few (I haven't seen them all) of their transfers are problematic (NTSC-PAL done wrong, etc.), but without the $$ behind them, they are doing a fantastic job.

User avatar
Gordon
Waster of Cinema
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:03 am

#22 Post by Gordon » Thu Dec 15, 2005 8:20 pm

Wow - a nice bit of synchronicity: I was reading a review of the Wild Side DVD last night and was ruminating on sending JM an email! The Madman transfers are generally very good and as this is the 183-minute version, it might just be from the same, stunning master as the Wild Side or Japanese editions.

I learned early on that the Criterion was poor - there's actually a screen-capture comparison of the Criterion and the Japanese transfers online somewhere; I'll try and find it. The Criterion certainly look very poor in comparison; certainly thier worst anamorphic transfer. So I have frustratingly not been able to see the film for seven years, so this is stupendous news.

Brilliant scouting, Pinback!

User avatar
HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#23 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Jan 14, 2006 2:27 am

Masaki Kobayashi-- so much can be-- and needs to be-- said about this man.... forever operating in the west under the shadow of Kurosawa, it seems that there is such a defecit of information about this man... so much that can be elucidated, (especially considering the scarcity of 1960's interviews with him covering the stretch 62-67 SEPPU-KU/KWAIDAN/SAMOURAI REBELLION...WIFE, I can't believe that CC has seen fit to deprive us of commentaries for all of their Kobayashi releases... yet they stretch his 1994 Shinoda interview over two discs, which I find annoying. Someone else on the board expressed alsewhere (Boudu I think) the sentiment that they were annoyed with CC breaking documentaries/appearances/interviews up into pieces and spreading them over multiple titles... i e a director makes an appearance on a TV show, etc, whereby CC places couple of minutes of discussion about film A on that films CC DVD as extra, a few more minutes about film B-- taken from the same TV appearance-- on that films DVD release as extra, and so on. I think the whole interview/doc/etc should be on 1 dvd only, as was done with Mizoguchi for Ugetsu. I don't know why they didn't follow their usual process (I mean I'm glad they didn't) and break the doc into bits, save Mizo's discussion about the rest of his films for upcoming corresponding releases. Who knows what we may be missing from this Kobayashi appearance from the Guild? He may talk about Kwaidan in greater detail, perhaps the HUMAN CONDITION, his childhood, his war experiences, anything, for which I'd be very interested.

I think stretching elements out like this for filler (i e the rediculous little clip from the 94 interview for SAMURAI REBELLION) is a bit cheap... and gives them an excuse to not have to produce supplements for as many titles. I just can't believe there was no commentary for KWAIDAN (which has such a huge studio backstory) or HARA KIRI/SEPPU. The man was of course an incredibly influential, major director and three major films have been released by the CC... Kwaidan has no extras save trailer, Rebellion has 1 goofy-quick interview clip from an element mined elsewhere, and Hara Kiri has one of the bleakest 2-disc sets, containing no commentary and a partial interview segment. I mean, Le frickin SAmouria had more stuff on it and it was a 1-discer.

User avatar
Pinback
J-Horror Junkie
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:50 pm

#24 Post by Pinback » Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:41 pm

Cover art for the forthcoming R4 Kwaidan is up:

Image

User avatar
Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

#25 Post by Gregory » Sat Jan 21, 2006 3:34 pm

I agree completely with Herr Schreck. Harakiri could have been one of the most outstanding releases of last year, and of course it's still an essential purchase solely on the strength of the film even at the higher price. I can only hope that this problem will be remedied with future Kobayashi releases. Much as I'd like to see a re-release of Kwaidan with the full cut, I think it's even more urgent that they release any they can from the following list (in no particular order).

Human Condition Trilogy: This was a highly personal project for Kobayashi, who in addition to directing helped write the screenplay from Gomikawa's novels about the ways people and their values and ideals are transformed and destroyed within inhuman systems. It's striking the way Kobayashi's wartime experiences seem to have brought this project to life in a special and perhaps more complex way than an autobiographical text.

The Thick-Walled Room: Kobayashi's breakthrough film.

Hymn to a Tired Man: Reprises some of the themes of Human Condition

The Tokyo Trial: I haven't seen this documentary but from what I've read it sounds quite penetrating. This is perhaps further evidence that Kobayashi had much more to say than he had the chance to later in his career but he just wasn't given a good enough place by the industry. The Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals are interesting to me for many reasons, including as studies in victors' justice and as a foundation for international law. CD Japan has a DVD of this (Tokyo Saiban) but it's on the pricey side and I'd love to see it get a R1 release anyway.

Black River: There is a good description in this thread. This is apparently a Janus title.

Post Reply