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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 12:48 pm 
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ECLIPSE SERIES 23: THE FIRST FILMS OF AKIRA KUROSAWA

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Sanshiro Sugata

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Akira Kurosawa’s debut, made when the director was only thirty-two years old, is based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita about the rivalry between judo and jujitsu. Sanshiro Sugata is a dazzling martial-arts action tale, but it’s also a moving story of moral education and enlightenment that’s quintessential Kurosawa.

The Most Beautiful

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Akira Kurosawa’s portrait of the all-female volunteer workers at an optics factory during World War II, shot on location at the Nippon Kogaku factory in Hiratsuka, was created with a definite patriotic agenda. Yet thanks to the director’s groundbreaking semidocumentary approach to the material, The Most Beautiful is not merely nationalist propaganda, but a revealing look at Japanese women of the era that anticipates the aesthetics of Japanese cinema’s postwar social realism.

Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two

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Akira Kurosawa’s debut film, Sanshiro Sugata, was such a big success that the studio pressured the director into making a sequel. The film may have been forced upon the young Kurosawa, but the result is hugely entertaining, reuniting most of the major players from the original and featuring a bifurcated narrative in which, first, Sanshiro confronts two Americans, a sailor and a boxer, and, second, Sanshiro finds himself the target of a revenge mission enacted by the brothers of the original film’s villain, Gennosuke.

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail

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The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, the fourth film from Akira Kurosawa, is based on a legendary twelfth-century incident in which the lord Yoshitsune, with the help of a group of samurai, crosses enemy territory disguised as a monk. The story was dramatized for centuries in Noh and Kabuki theater, and here it becomes one of the director’s lightest, most farcical films.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 12:57 pm 
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Thanks, that means I can cross one of my great worries from my list. It would have been really mean to have deprived all of those who didn't get the big set of these films.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:03 pm 
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For eager and shameless people these transfers have been out for months, I think Criterion lost a lot of money on that exclusive AK100-set. But that's just me.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:11 pm 
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Captain Bracegirdle wrote:
For eager and shameless people these transfers have been out for months, I think Criterion lost a lot of money on that exclusive AK100-set. But that's just me.

You sound bitter.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:35 pm 
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So happy about the Sternbergs that I totally forgot to check the Eclipse section, and now this!

Wonderful!!

Though I thought that "Tiger's tail" was originally planned for the mainline, wasn't it? Not that I care much...

Now we only need "Madadayo". But even now it's by far the best month for CC since ages... and the worst for the Euro for about the same time....argh.....


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:42 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
Now we only need "Madadayo".

And Dersu Uzala


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:45 pm 
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A pointless observation: This is scheduled to come out only a week after the Sacha Guitry Eclipse set. Surely this has to be some kind of record, yes?


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:50 pm 
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To make up for the three-month gaps between the Korda and Nikkatsu sets and the Makavajev and Akerman sets?


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:56 pm 
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Thank you Criterion - I now revoke most of the ranting that I did on the thread for the box set about the exclusive films! (all when we get Madadayo! But I'm hoping that it was simply because it didn't fit the 'first films' theme of this set)


Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri May 14, 2010 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:58 pm 
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Matt wrote:
To make up for the three-month gaps between the Korda and Nikkatsu sets and the Makavajev and Akerman sets?

2010 already has as many Eclipse releases as we got for the whole of 2009. So I can only assume that this is all we're going to get this year. :P


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 3:29 pm 
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Very nice that they're doing this, for those like me who own the vast majority of the stuff in the megabox.

Reclamation-of-dignity month? I'm all for it!


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 3:42 pm 
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I'm not expecting much from Most Beautiful or Sanshiro Sugata 2, they are reputed to be Kurosawa's weakest. That said, Sanshiro Sugata 1 is excellent, hard to believe it's a first film. Tiger's Tail is an odd little movie, only about an hour long and somewhat stagy (I think it used to be a play). I have no idea what my reaction to it will be this time around.

Still: glad they've all finally got a more reasonable release.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 3:52 pm 
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The first Sugatois so fantastic, glad I'll be able get my hands on it. Bankruptcy here I come.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 4:00 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
Though I thought that "Tiger's tail" was originally planned for the mainline, wasn't it? Not that I care much...

Yes, I think we heard that a commentary had been recorded.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 8:27 pm 
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Another AWOL commentary? Did someone break into their audio department? Or maybe they dropped any mainline plans to silence an onslaught of dear Mulvaney and facebook kvetching about the AK box "exclusivity". The commentary and a couple Toho docs would have been nice but there's no shortage of Kurosawa info out there so I can't complain about saving 10, 20 bucks. Bring on August!


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 12:16 am 
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It probably would've been Cowie anyways.


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 12:30 am 
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Svevan wrote:
It probably would've been Cowie anyways.
Nope. Donald Richie.


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 8:35 am 

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Two things:

1) I assume that, since it's an Eclipse set, Sugata 1 won't have the additional scenes that are on the Region 4?

2) The story behind Tiger's Tail is more fascinating than the movie itself. Begun under the Japanese military and by the end, not only were U.S. occupation troops right offscreen, but both Michael Powell and John Ford visited the set!


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 9:40 am 

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Napier wrote:
Tommaso wrote:
Now we only need "Madadayo".

And Dersu Uzala

How about Rhapsody in August?


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 9:44 am 
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Errr yes. But at least the current "Rhapsody" disc is watchable (though not great), which can't really be said about the "Madadayo" and "Dersu" discs (the Ruscico "Dersu", that is).


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 9:58 am 
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Dersu Especially is long overdue.. though of course the rights labyrinth is far different than your standard Toho/Shochiku AK Japanese acqusition lying in the Janus vaults already. I know Kino has had the video rights for R1 for some time.. thus the analoguey-non-anamorphic transfer delivered them long ago (transfer is probably late-90's LATEST).

Will be interesting to see where it lands (along with Tark's MIRROR, a transfer/release from Kino with a similar Russian pedigree... the 2 DVDs are peas in the same old pod) when it's fully restored and released in HD, or at least released behind an HD transfer encoded in SD, one or the other or both.


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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 5:25 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
Dersu Especially is long overdue.. though of course the rights labyrinth is far different than your standard Toho/Shochiku AK Japanese acqusition lying in the Janus vaults already. I know Kino has had the video rights for R1 for some time.. thus the analoguey-non-anamorphic transfer delivered them long ago (transfer is probably late-90's LATEST).

Will be interesting to see where it lands (along with Tark's MIRROR, a transfer/release from Kino with a similar Russian pedigree... the 2 DVDs are peas in the same old pod) when it's fully restored and released in HD, or at least released behind an HD transfer encoded in SD, one or the other or both.

Kino has been doing some great work lately, so maybe a new DVD (and maybe Blu?) of Dersu Uzala is possible.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 12:26 am 
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Kino doesn't control the print they can use for Dersu Uzala and until Mosfilm does an acceptable restoration, we are not going to see an HD-quality version. Unfortunately.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 1:26 pm 
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Ah. Unfortunate.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 4:03 pm 
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How about the Quiet Duel? Does Criterion hold the rights? I guess that could be main line.


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