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Strange Circus [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Product details

  • Actors: Masumi Miyazaki, Issei Ishida, Rie Kuwana, Mai Takahashi, Fujiko
  • Directors: Shion Sono
  • Writers: Shion Sono
  • Producers: Kôji Hoshino, Masayuki Fujita, Mizue Kunizane, Takahiro Ôno, Toshiaki Nakazawa
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Danger After Dark
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Mar 2007
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MMLP9G
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,536 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Critic Ali Insane on 31 Oct 2009
Format: DVD
Firstly, the review by Caradoc Elmet is absolute nonsense. I purchased my version from an Amazon market place supplier and the running time is just shy of two hours. The flick I watched was very disturbing and extremely graphic with full on violence and not cut in the slightest.

Masumi Miyazaki puts in an incredible performance in Sion Sono's erotically grotesque masterpiece about an author who may, or may not, have been abused as a child. The story centres around a teenage girl called Mitsuko who is forced to watch her parents indulge in carnal pleasures through a peephole from inside a cello case; until her demented father (former glam rocker and artist Oguchi) decides upon a role reversal between mother and daughter and a ludicrous love triangle develops amidst a doomed family dynamic. Jealousy rears its ugly head as fighting ensues between the once peaceful mother and daughter. The sexual abuse sends Mitsuko's mind into a realm of fantasy making her an audience member observing the strange circus that decapitates any willing volunteer; as evil clowns and drag-queens stalk the sumptuously lit stage inside a darkened club.

The starkly gorgeous style of the cinematography and the garish narrative, which clearly echoes the "is it real or imagined" style of Edogawa Rampo, is all crafted from the same uncomfortably resonant atmospheric fabric that nightmares reside within: the hallways occasionally transform into blood-dripping, crimson corridors with a televised head of authoritarian parenting being wheeled around.

The luridly stylised eroticism laced in fetid fetishism with an insatiable script plummets even deeper into the bowels of depravity long before the amputation scenes, bondage imprisonment and secret transexuality kicks into full swing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Dec 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The third film I have watched by this Director and this man is talented. The version I watched is 148 minutes and this is the one to get. I can see why it has been cut. There is enough sex in this film to fill pornhub, but if you are buying it for that you are going to be whacked around the gills in a psychological roller coaster ride which takes no prisoners.

Lynch, Jodorowsky, distended psychologies, a critique of the mental health system, this film rips apart an upper class dream and scythes into social pretension, game playing, violence, patriarchal rite de signeur with such brutal precision it will stay in the mind for months.

A film about elucidation, the R D Laing version; wishing yourself away into being another person because the one you exist within is too horrible to contemplate. The catalyst for the brutality is the father, and as I watched it struck many chords with the work of Anais Nin who went through a similar experience.

The film is important in many ways as it makes the links between sexual abuse and later mental health conditions including the desire to disfigure the self and take revenge.

It concentrates on child abuse and how a mother colludes then looks at the impact of the events on the main characters as adults. It has more twists and turns than an eel on a fishing line, as the story unravels. Multiple endings, beliefs and dreams wash through the film throughout. Filmed with an eye to Cabaret and David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes it also paints a palette of washed out Japan hiding itself away from emotional reality.

Absolutely raw, uncompromising, taking the full swing and whacking into the tissues of lies, families erect around their reality, the film is beautifully rendered.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Caradoc Elmet on 13 Oct 2008
Format: DVD
Don't bother with this awful American edit. The original is a 108 minute film, this is a mere 83 minutes! All the heart has been removed, all the main features have been ripped out and what's left is a meaningless pile of dross which will leave you wondering how this ever got a release.

Get the original unedited version which is five stars all the way!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Leeam on 16 Feb 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I knew nothing about this film other than having watched Suicide Circle by the same director. I took a chance by ordering it and was glad i did. Firstly, the film looks great. The colours are vivid and the sets are imaginative and strange in keeping with the tone. The film is about incest, emotional trauma and revenge. It is told in a surreal style which won't please fans of more commercial cinema but is what makes it unique. The themes are difficult to stomach but I never felt that the exploitation element was too extreme. The performances are good and it is well directed. It is artistic in nature and has a dream-like quality.
The only disappointment for me was that the director/writer felt the need to include a hurried explanation for everything at the end. Also, the scene on the bed is too visceral but certainly has an impact. On the whole, a fascinating film.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
"...love, lust, jealousy, meantal breakdown, and then revenge..." 19 Aug 2008
By Andrew M. Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I really don't know where to start on this one, because it is just that amazing.

Firstly, the movie is incredibly beautiful, in a mind-blowing, visually stunning sort of way. Everything is very detailed,
Secondly, the acting is impeccable. All of the characters come to life and Masumi Miyazaki does such an insanely good job, I stand captivated long after multiple viewings...
Combined, you are sucked into the world these characters are living in, and sent into the big top of chaos.

Sion Sono, who you may, and most likely know from Suicide Club takes a whack at sexuality, and once again family. Tossing away society, we take a very intimate look at the workings of attraction, jealousy, memories, and a hurricane of other emotions that spawn from love of any sort; in this case it is a distorted love.

About this DVD:
The packaging is very nice, haha... the apparently newly trendy clear box, with nice inserts. The disk itself has the full version of Strange Circus, despite what the box says, this is, in fact the full TLA releasing of the movie, with the time as correct on Amazon.com. Why it is incorrect on the box... I do not know. There is also a great making of featurette, with English subtitles, that runs about an hour.

Though people say that this movie is highly disturbing and uncomfortable, etc. I didn't find it to be that bad. Yes there are some more... off-putting scenes, but nothing I wouldn't feel comfortable watching with friends, and definitely nothing inappropriate given the story/goal of this film, that taken into perspective, it's actually quite tasteful, going so far as to let you in on what is happening, but not so far as to be exploiting anyone. As I said, it is so well done, that you are completely taken along for the ride. The music is dead on to bring you in too, and the visuals are surreal to ordinary, and everywhere in between, but even when ordinary, it is breath-taking in beauty. Sion Sono again takes on a big task, and succeeds, in my opinion, and delivers something to take a look at and open your mind up to!

All around 5/5! A must buy/watch for the Japanese Cinema fan, Sion Sono fan, or the open-minded viewer!!!
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
True to its title...3 1/2 stars. 18 April 2007
By Woopak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Strange Circus is from the director of Suicide Club. Both films are controversial and very uninhibited with their theme.
Very bizarre, uninhibited, disturbingly wierd to its very core, this film doesn't leave much for the imagination, it pushes the envelope in the world of the macabre and the unusual. Actually, bizarre is an understatement. Decapitated limbs, incestuous lovemaking, and blood-soaked walls squeeze deep within the story's convoluted and utterly unnerving nature. It's the type of film that you want to look away from if it wasn't so intriguing.

A film that pushes the envelope this far has to be artistically captivating in its cinematography and immersive in execution to offset its exploitative premise and bypass its dark shadowy premise. The film delivers; with such lurid visual grandeur, dark twisted philosophy and a very strong and aggressive narrative style from director Sion Sono, it manages to rise above that label, but still maintain a feeling of gritty disgust which looms in its endless pit of the unusual. Buckle your seat belts and check your airbags, because all the odd and disturbing twists and turns within Strange Circus could disturb the viewer in a way that simulates whiplash.

As much as I would like to give you details of the screenplay, I'd rather have the ones who happen to rent/buy this title be taken on a ride. Suffice it to say, the film revolves around the decline of child named Mitsuko, and her mother Sayuri/Taeko the novelist. While this is a very grotesque tale of a love triangle, the good cinematography can preoccupy the viewer of this odd tale.

Masumi Miyazaki gives a great performance. She is quite gutsy to pull this off. She manages to capture the aura of Sayuri's/Taeko's eroticism as well as her twisted presence. She is quite a sight. The actress must have been hand-picked for this role. Sexy, alluring but with a disturbing aura about her; Miyasaki rivals Aya Sugimoto when it comes to raw twisted sexuality.

Strange Circus is an experience very much alike when you experience motion sickness. Viewers will feel like being grabbed by the spine and shaken until you pass out. For some reason, I managed to sit through the entire film because it gets you curious on how it will end. It has that effect much like when you see a car wreck, you want to look away but for unknown some reason you can't and your eyes are stuck.

Video/Audio: This TLA release video transfer is much like the Japanese region 3 release. The transfer is very sufficient to a film this type. It has some video noise but not bad. The 5.1 DD track is quite crisp. It delivers that loud creepy score.

I would like to warn you that this is not for the faint of heart. It is a journey into the unusual with a VERY shocking level of abnormality. People who liked Lynchian-type mind-benders may want to give it a shot. The film's premise is of such sensitive nature that only the MOST TIMID recommendation can be given. [3.5 stars]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sion Sono's Next Masterpiece After "Suicide Club" May Make You Question Your Sanity 31 Aug 2009
By Woopak - Published on Amazon.com
I am not one to shy away from any sort of film. I guess I have this twisted curiosity that drives me to see even the most disturbing movie made; so long as it is compelling. There are movies that you can say that you didn't particularly enjoy, yet you can't help but admit its brilliance and ambition. Films such as "The Girl Next Door", "A Very Short Life" and "Blood and Bones" are prime examples. Sion Sono, the acclaimed writer-director of "Suicide Club" and "Noriko's Dinner Table" once again defies genre descriptions and claims that it is grotesque but at the same time, it is visually erotic. Truer words have never been spoken.

A preteen schoolgirl named Mitsuko (played by Rie Kuwana) is pushed into a world of sex, voyeurism and abuse by her father Gozo (Hiroshi Ohguchi) who is also her school principal. In the beginning, Mitsuko was merely forced to watch her father have sex with her mother, Sayuri (Masumi Miyazaki) while hiding inside a huge cello case. But as time passes, Mitsuko and Sayuri switch places. Sayuri begins to envy Mitsuko as the other woman as Gozo forces the two to watch while the other has sex with him alternatively. This disgusting behavior, twisted relationship and forbidden sex has provoked a major collapse in psyche...

"I was sentenced to death at birth; or maybe my mother was to be executed and we switched places."

Sion Sono's "Strange Circus" is a film that defies proper descriptions. It is neither an art house film, nor is it a horror film; it is a bizarre amalgam of both that truly pushes the envelope. The movie is indeed horrific in ways that seem very real because truth be told, thing like this does happen. "Strange Circus" is the most graphic, highly disturbing film I've ever committed myself to watch....twice. (The first time was in April, 2007) My first review didn't do the film justice, I was so shocked that such a theme would be explored in Japanese cinema so vividly. Themes of incestuous sex, sexual and child abuse, beheadings and decapitations, orgies and sick sexual depravation are strong in the film`s screenplay. Still, Sion Sono's "Strange Circus" deserves to be seen, it is brilliantly shot and despite its very disturbing themes, it is an excellent movie.

The film begins as we become privy to Mitsuko's mental torture. It is the kind that upsets a person to the core. Aside from Mitsuko's mental anguish, her mother Sayuri also experiences extreme torture of her psyche. One may ask as to how a mother can allow such an act to occur, but trust me, Sono will put everything together. The way the film's first half is structured is similar to a narrative that feels episodic, it is as if Mitsuko herself is writing a journal. The film is quite cryptic in a way and would no doubt alienate some viewers. Its narrative is full of sequences that may make one question which is real or not, and as soon as you think you have it figured out, Sono warps you into another possibility. The sex scenes are very graphic and borders on being plain porn. Thankfully the scenes of Mitsuko's molestation happen off camera, with some hinted at symbolisms to make its point.

Sono sidesteps the notion that there are innocents in the film. Sure, it is easy to sympathize with Mitsuko as we witness her plight but as soon as begin to develop the tiniest bit of empathy, it becomes replaced with confusion and utter disgust. Gozo may well be one of the most despicable characters I've seen in cinema. His admission that what he and Mitsuko did was wrong, was a way to express his knowledge that what he did was evil, and he was afraid that they may be found out. Gozo is a sex addict and would have sex with any woman. Throughout her life, Mitsuko is mentally tortured and used. First by her father and then attacked by her own mother. A strong argument may be raised that the movie is about the hallucinations of the older Mitsuko that she is writing a story now as a handicapped writer Taeko. But Sion Sono's film is just as mind-bending as one by David Lynch. This is where Yuji comes in, to explain and to reveal the horrifying answers.

Masumi Miyazaki plays multiple roles--as Sayuri, even as Mitsuko and then as Taeko. Her performance is just mesmerizing, her sex scenes are just disquieting but at the same time, undeniably erotic. Miyazaki bears her soul for her role and expresses every piece of needed emotion meant for the scene. "Strange Circus" is a success because of Masumi Miyazaki, she just does what is needed to be done. Her performance is truly impressive and to think that the actress took a long time off from acting (for 11 years) before this performance. Sono presents considerable visuals and symbols to balance the film's disturbing themes. The film is beautifully shot, with a nice execution in style.

The film's screenplay is the type that makes you want to look away, much like witnessing a really bad car accident but for some reason, you just can't look away. The film would be able to induce whiplash, brought upon by its last act. The end of the film is just too riveting and gripping that it may be worth the price of admission. It is a form of non-linear storytelling that may prove confusing to some, yet, so rewarding to those who are into brilliant filmmaking. It is just plain confusingly horrifying. Also, the film has a good share of blood and gore in the film's last act...it involves a chainsaw.

"Strange Circus" is no doubt a film not for everybody. Heck, I would go as far as to suggest that it is not a film that would appeal to most people. While I cannot deny its bold ambition, I can't really say I liked or enjoyed the film. If this had been released in theaters, it would earn the dreaded NC-17 rating. Sion Sono's "Strange Circus" is rightfully named. It is grotesquely gripping and disturbing at the same time. It provokes a gritty disgust while enticing you with its narrative.

The film is of such disturbing nature that only the most timid recommendation may be given.
You may hide in a corner and suck on your thumbs now. [4+ Stars]
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Deep,disturbing and captivating 11 Mar 2007
By Bob Whitley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of the most disturbing films i have ever seen. It deals with child physical,sexual and emotional abuse in the most in your face manner possible. A little girl is forced by her own father to watch sexual acts through a peephole. The movie gets darker and darker with every scene and through the whole thing you get the feeling that your watching a nightmare on screen. Its very disturbing but its a solid film.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Come prepared. 24 Mar 2009
By J. Onorato - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Strange Circus is a great movie. It's very poetic, somewhat slow-paced, and it's beautiful to look at - at least when you're not looking away and covering your eyes. Still, it doesn't matter- there's no place to hide. This movie burrows right into your gut and stays there. It's not a horror film; it's more of a twisting, surreal drama. And yet it contains just about every horrific taboo subject you can think of. Rape, incest, forced voyerism, mutilation, physical and mental abuse- if you can think of it, it's in there. Did I mention the finale also includes a chainsaw? Yes, it's poetry, but it's a brutal poem that hits you in the gut, over and over again. If you're only a casual fan of Asian Cinema, this movie will be like staring into the sun. Don't do it. Don't watch. But if you're familiar with Sono's other works, or Miike's work, this movie is quite a ride. Come prepared.
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