Watching this Blu-Ray i the first time I have seen this film. In a sense, it's 'typical' Greenaway. Each shot is beautifully composed (less formally than some other films) but it also draws from his 1990s video works, such as Peter Greenaway's A TV Dante: The Inferno Cantos I-VIII [DVD
] in the way it has frame-within-a-frame effects. Despite its unconventional appearance, the plot is linear and pretty simple to follow.
The film itself deals with obsession, calligraphy, nakedness, revenge and poetry. It is part in Japanese (with subtitles) and part English. Most of the enjoyment for me came in the dazzlingly creative way the story was told rather than the story itself, and perhaps that is the 'message' here.
The only extras on the disc are the theatrical trailer (in poor quality) and a photo gallery.
Previous DVDs have sparked controversy over their aspect ratios. While IMDB lists this film as 1.75:1, it is presented here in 1.33:1 (4:3). This is an unusual format for the cinema these days, but nothing appeared to be cropped. Images in the film itself vary from widescreen to full frame, and are often overlaid meaning that transferring in anything other than 1.33:1 would not be feasible. (Darwin is also in variable aspect ratio, as it is panned and scanned.) I suspect this film was shot on film (Super 35) then edited on video, which at that time would have been in 1.33:1. Having said that, the trailer is in 1.75:1.
Picture quality is good but not amazing, again probably a symptom of the mid-90s video technology used in production.
Overall, this is a feast for the eyes and a must for anyone with an interest in Greenaway. If the aspect ratio is wrong, it is at least not a significant hindrance to enjoyment.