16 The Idiot

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tristan
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16 The Idiot

#1 Post by tristan » Sun Feb 20, 2005 2:37 pm

The Idiot

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Akira Kurosawa's The Idiot, his only adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel, was a cherished project on which it is claimed he expended more effort than on any other film. A darkly ambitious exploration of the depths of human emotion, it combines the talents of two of the greatest Japanese actors of their generation — Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo) and Setsuko Hara (Tokyo Story, Late Spring). The Idiot is perhaps the most contemplative of all Kurosawa's works, a tone which is heightened by the unusual, trance-like performances.

Kurosawa's electrifying dramatisation uproots the novel's Russian Summer setting to a memorable, snowbound Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan, closest to Russia in climate and custom. War criminal Kameda (Masayuki Mori), reprieved from a death sentence, is fresh out of the asylum, mentally fragile, and prone to epileptic fits. In turn, his emotional involvement with two women (Setsuko Hara and Yoshiko Kuga) and his new, increasingly volatile friend Akama (Toshiro Mifune) leads further into madness and gross tragedy.

Filmed between Rashomon and Ikiru, Kurosawa poured himself into faithfully capturing the essence of his favourite author's work, only to see it butchered by the studio. Never at all released in its original 266-minute form, the original Kurosawa edit was only ever shown once at the Japanese premiere and then re-edited by the studio prior to the official Japanese release the following week. In spite of Kurosawa's own efforts to locate the original version in the studio's vaults forty years later, his cut is now sadly considered lost. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the longest extant version of this rarely seen film: the original 166-minute domestic release, as presented to the Japanese public in 1951.

Special Features

- Newly restored transfer
- Optional English subtitles
- Production stills gallery
- 36-page booklet with a new essay by Daryl Chin, and a reprint of the section on The Idiot from Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto

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Lino
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#2 Post by Lino » Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:53 pm

From imdb.com:
Runtime: 166 min / Japan:180 min (premiere) / Japan:265 min (extended version)

Trivia: Filmed as a two-part film, but cut severely by the studio against director Akira Kurosawa's wishes. Original unreleased version ran 265 minutes.
So, which one are we getting? The japanese disc runs 166 minutes. Is this the one you're working from?

http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=DA-191

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#3 Post by Pinback » Mon Feb 21, 2005 1:10 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:I don't think Shochiku saved any of the material it chopped out of Kurosawa's original version of "the Idiot". Maybe one of the Abes pulled the thrown away bits out of the trash? ;~}

MEK

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#4 Post by peerpee » Mon Feb 21, 2005 1:43 pm

In 1990, Kurosawa himself spent a week in Shochiku's archives looking for the original version. He found nothing.

There are rumours of a collector with a 16mm print of the original version, but no-one has actually seen it, so it's probably apocryphal.

Shochiku only have the release version. This is the version that was released to the whole of Japan immediately after the premiere.

The original version was only seen at the premiere.

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#5 Post by exte » Mon Feb 21, 2005 2:54 pm

Where's the official release info for this? Are there any specs yet?

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#6 Post by Pinback » Mon Feb 21, 2005 2:59 pm

exte wrote:Where's the official release info for this? Are there any specs yet?
Only official news is the title being listed for June on the MoC website, which peerpee confirmed in the Random Speculation thread, along with the spine number...

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#7 Post by Lino » Tue Mar 01, 2005 5:48 am

Cover is up but the thumbnail isn't working yet.

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#8 Post by reaky » Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:26 pm

Can this really deserve the (almost universal) bad press it's received, even from Richie? Just the stills have me desperate to see it.

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#9 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:36 pm

No, it doesn't deserve the universal bad press -- and Richie is, with all due respect, very far from infallible. ;~}

Despite some studio butchery -- Kurosawa's transposition of Doestoevsky's masterpiece from summertime Russia to wintertime Northern Japan does a superb job of capturing the spirit of the original. The performances are generally excellent (except Masayuki Mori, who nevertheless does his best to portray the elusive central role). I actually think Mifune turns in one of his best performances ever here -- and Hara is also excellent in her atypically frightening role. Moreover, the wintry cinematography is often extraordinary.

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#10 Post by Jun-Dai » Tue Mar 01, 2005 4:36 pm

I haven't seen The Idiot since high school, but it was actually one of my preferred Kurosawa's at the time. I'd hate to think that it was bad and I hadn't noticed.

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#11 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Mar 01, 2005 4:55 pm

I suspect that if a Kurosawa fan hates "Lower Depths", he/she will hate " the Idiot" more.

I happen to like "Lower Depths" a whole lot -- and love "The Idiot".

MEK

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#12 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Mar 02, 2005 5:10 am

Jun-Dai wrote: I'd hate to think that it was bad and I hadn't noticed.
Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, listen to them but don't base your thinking entirely on what others say, the only thing that matters in the end is your own personal opinion! Go on - give the film another try! :)

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#13 Post by Pinback » Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:19 pm

Full description is now up up at the MoC site:
Masters of Cinema wrote:MoC #16

THE IDIOT
(Akira Kurosawa, 1951)

Japan | 1.33:1 OAR | Date of release: July 2005

Akira Kurosawa's The Idiot, his only adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel, was a cherished project for which it is claimed he expended more effort than on any of his other films. A darkly ambitious exploration of the depths of human emotion, it combines the talents of two of the greatest Japanese actors of their generation — Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo) and Setsuko Hara (Tokyo Story, Late Spring). The Idiot is perhaps the most contemplative of all Kurosawa's works, a tone which is heightened by the unusual, trance-like performances.

Kurosawa's electrifying dramatisation uproots the novel's Russian Summer setting to a memorable, snowbound Hokkaido — the northern-most island of Japan, closest to Russia in climate and custom. War criminal Kameda (Masayuki Mori), reprieved from a death sentence, is fresh out of the asylum, mentally fragile, and prone to epileptic fits. In turn, his emotional involvement with two women (Setsuko Hara and Yoshiko Kuga) and his new, increasingly volatile friend Akama (Toshiro Mifune) leads further into madness and gross tragedy.

Filmed between Rashomon and Ikiru, Kurosawa poured himself into faithfully capturing the essence of his favourite author's work — only to see it butchered by the studio. Never at all released in its original 266-minute form, the original Kurosawa edit was only ever shown once at the Japanese premiere and then re-edited by the studio prior to the official Japanese release the following week. In spite of Kurosawa's own efforts to locate the original version in the studio's vaults forty years later, his cut is now sadly considered lost. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the longest extant version of this rarely seen film: the original 166-minute domestic release, as presented to the Japanese public in 1951.

"Of all my films, people wrote to me most about this one... ...I had wanted to make The Idiot long before Rashomon. Since I was little I've liked Russian literature, but I find that I like Dostoevsky the best and had long thought that this book would make a wonderful film. He is still my favourite author, and he is the one — I still think — who writes most honestly about human existence." - AKIRA KUROSAWA


SPECIAL FEATURES

Newly restored transfer

Optional English subtitles

Production stills gallery

16-page booklet with a new essay by Daryl Chin, and a reprint of the section on The Idiot from KUROSAWA: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto.

Plus more!


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#14 Post by peerpee » Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:38 pm

An unusual and serious replication problem has unfortunately rendered the first pressing of THE IDIOT unwatchable (out of sync soundtrack).

This is the first time this has happened to us, and we're currently trying to pick up the pieces, but I'm afraid copies have already entered distribution channels.

We're working on a fix. If you have a copy already, or on the way to you, please hold on to it and we'll be putting a replacement scheme into place in the coming weeks.

We're very sorry about this, we still don't know what exactly caused it.

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#15 Post by Matango » Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:40 am

I'd also like to know if Scandal will be re-done before I buy it.

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#16 Post by peerpee » Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:49 am

SCANDAL has a few frames of dropout (all together in one place), which we've ascertained were on the Shochiku master. This is unfortunate, but of the "blink and you've missed it" type. Short of redoing the master in Japan at tremendous cost, the only realistic thing we could do would be to excise the few offending frames.

The sound sync issues on SCANDAL are actually issues with the way the film currently exists, completely unrelated to the error on THE IDIOT. The film was rather sloppily post-dubbed at the time, and Shochiku's master was a little disappointing. We've tried to correct it where we can, but there's nothing more we can do to sync what's there.

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#17 Post by Matango » Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:54 am

Ok, thanks for that.

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#18 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:27 am

peerpee wrote:The film was rather sloppily post-dubbed at the time, and Shochiku's master was a little disappointing. We've tried to correct it where we can, but there's nothing more we can do to sync what's there.
I haven't watched the whole film yet, but the parts I've sampled seemed pretty good.

It's funny to see Kurosawa basically doing a Perry Mason-esque type climax.

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#19 Post by denti alligator » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:42 am

Mine shipped from amazon.co.uk today. Along with the shipment notice I got a notice that it might be an out-of-synch copy. Is this still possible at this point? I figured the delay in shipment meant they were waiting for the corrected printing.

Anyway, I'll report back when I've had a chance to view it.

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#20 Post by peerpee » Thu Dec 01, 2005 12:24 pm

It's definitely the out-of-sync disc. We're still working on it.

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#21 Post by denti alligator » Sat Dec 03, 2005 4:22 pm

Gary's review is up at dvdbeaver and it's very laudatory!
I got mine today in the mail and the design and packaging is simply gorgeous, as we've come to expect from MoC. Beautiful booklet, too.

I'll wait for the replacement to watch this, but I'm quite anxious to see it. Although I'm not a big Kurosawa fan this is the first Dostoyevsky novel I read (now over 10 years ago) and I have a special fondness for it. Plus I love to watch Setsuko Hara :)

Additional note: the cover is much darker than the one pictured at MoC's website, though it still looks magnificent, I think.

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#22 Post by peerpee » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:06 pm

The new version of THE IDIOT is complete and ready.

Generally speaking, if you see a copy of THE IDIOT with a very dark looking cover (with no mirror/painting to the left of the lady) then this will be the old version.

The new version has a reprinted cover which now looks how it should (much lighter than the old version) and a mirror/painting is visible to the left of the lady on the cover..

---

On the flipside of the DVD, there are two numbers around the inner rim.

The old (bad) version has: DVD30029 and DVD30030

The new (good) version has: DVD30271 and DVD30272

---

Very few bad copies hit the distribution channels, many were returned. This shouldn't be a problem for long.

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#23 Post by denti alligator » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:51 pm

Do we do the return/exchange through you? Or should we contact the seller we got it from.

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#24 Post by peerpee » Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:05 pm

Much better to bother Eureka instead of the retailer.

Please send *just the faulty disc* (no protection required as these will simply be recycled) to:

THE IDIOT replacements,
Eureka Entertainment
Unit 9 Ironbridge Close, Great Central Way
London, NW10 0UF, UK

--

Hold on to your booklets and you will get a new sleeve (not as dark as the old one), new case, and a corrected disc.

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#25 Post by peerpee » Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:33 pm

Any forum members who are unlucky enough to have initial copies of THE IDIOT with a very dark cover and an out of sync disc, please PM me your addresses and I'll sort you out.

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