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4.4 out of 5 stars15
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 10 May 2012
Two of this films Sisters of the Gion and Osaka Elegy were available in the US from Criterion's Eclipse Series. Both being from 1936 have suffered a lot during the 2nd war time, when many movies were burned and lost forever. Probably we will never have the chance of seeing other masterpieces of the silent era and the early talkies era. Coming back to this is interesting that we find an artificial eye edition, instead of Masters Of Cinema (be not worried they have already released two packs with some precious masterpieces this year and maybe we will have more). I say this not a disrespectful manner! It is a praise in fact! The films's quality is pretty good considering the early mentioned aspects, but I am not certain that these discs are not only upscaled copies of the DVD's. The sound is a problem though, no master whatsoever. The two products are just categorized in Mizoguchi's pattern - oppression of women - and are a delight for classic Japanese cinema buffs.

The last two movies are also very important in the master's career and are produced in 1939 and 1946. There is a melancholy with a very pleasant echo in Mizoguchi's products and these two carry this torch, but stay within the chosen path. Regarding the quality of image and sound, I definitely have the same feeling as for the first two.

There are no extras or booklets within the box and this is a major fault for this box, clearly! It is kind of expensive without those elements but worth the buy for collectors nonetheless.
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on 28 April 2016
I cannot give an assessment of the the technical quality but I will only review these as films. I have loved the works of this director since the 1960's when I saw them at the National Film Theatre. Mizoguchi's method of filming is being able to bring out the psychological character of the actors and to weave these into a well thought out and moving story. He does this by exquisite camera work that is able to create so much atmosphere. All four of these films deal with the bad treatment of women and their poor standing in society. He directs very touching films that will be played many times. I thought that these four films together at this price was good value.
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on 12 October 2013
masterpiece films deserve better DVD transfer than this. clear but teensy tiny pictures surrounded by black borders (it's not my TV, it seems to be the discs), and less than perfect subtitling, including basic language mistakes. that said, there are no other choices and at least Mizoguchi's all-time greatest masterpiece, ignored worldwide for decades, can now be seen: The Last Chrysanthemum, 1939. so get a very large TV screen and stick it out, the camera work alone is worth the price.
recommended for the serious: Mark Le Fanu's Mizoguchi and Japan, ISBN 1-84457-057-6
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on 6 November 2012
I must qualify this review by saying I have only watched the 'Utamaro's and his Five Women' disc. Whilst the brilliance of Mizoguchi's direction and the fine acting is apparent, the quality of the transfer is poor - suffering from what looks like frame judder with accompanying loss of sound quality. The fact this is a blu ray disc only serves to emphasise the poor quality. It looks like it has been transferred from a live projection rather than remastered. It does not matter how old the material is - I've seen some splendid examples of films much older than this one. I guess this is why companies like, for example, Eureka, remaster their releases. It's a shame that the works of such a great master of cinema as Mizoguchi has not been given top treatment.

I have now watched THE STORY OF THE LAST CRYSANTHEMUM and whilst, yes, this is not a high definition digital transfer, it is better than the UTAMARO disc, albeit in lowish contrast and with some 'developer-stain ghosting' from one of the transfer negatives/positives. It is a brilliant insight into the lives of Kabuki actors - and indeed we see some Kabuki performances towards the end of this bitter-sweet film.
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on 17 May 2012
This 4-disc set of early Mizoguchi films is proof of the fact that Blu-ray releases are no guarantee of quality. One should of course be prepared to make allowances for source material of this age, but these Artificial Eye versions of OSAKA ELEGY and SISTER'S OF THE GION are inferior to those in Criterion's 4-disc MIZOGUCHI'S FALLEN WOMEN.

By comparison, these lack contrast, the subtitling is inferior, and both suffer from what I can only describe as a kind of digital banding (which I presume might be a compression anomaly). This banding becomes particularly evident in low-light shots and dark sections of the frame. Thankfully, it isn't apparent on UTAMARO AND HIS FIVE WOMAN or THE STORY OF THE LAST CRYSANTHEMUM, but given the underwhelming standard of the transfers, one might as well opt for the less expensive DVD versions (for what it's worth).

Despite my disappointment with this set as a whole, I am at least very pleased that UTAMARO and CRYSANTHEMUM (two very fine Mizoguchi films) are now available on DVD. Until new prints are found, or a company like Criterion or The Film Foundation decide to restore them, these are probably as good as we're likely to see.

While I'm having a moan, I may as well take a swipe at Artificial Eye's short branding animation that automatically plays after their discs are loaded. If it was silent (like the Criterion one), it wouldn't be an issue, but the annoying accompanying music is very grating, especially when the same clip is played (and cannot be fast-forwarded) immediately prior to the film playing. Grr. It's irritating when companies over-market themselves to those who have already bought into what they offer. In terms of generating brand awareness and loyalty, it must be somewhat counter-productive.
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on 17 June 2013
Arguably the greatest film-makers in the World between 1945 and 1965 were the Japanese, and possibly the greatest individual director of that period was Mizoguchi Kenji. That much of his and his fellow countrymen's work is now available to us on DVD & Blu-ray is wonderful, and even more wonderful is the availability of their rarer pre-war work. This box-set shows that Mizoguchi was already a master in the late 1930s - showing both a mastery cinematic technique and a complete understanding of the human condition. These pictures are unmissable..
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on 14 March 2014
I bought this box set of films because I thought the BD edition would have been superior to that of the DVDs. But it isn't so. The quality of the film is not very good. Still, for people who wants to get to approach this film director it is a good opportunity though.
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on 15 November 2013
The 4 films are of sheer beauty. The packaging by Artificial Eye is of sheer beauty as well. I especially like the slim blu ray cases and off course the movies themselves. Together with the Late Mizoguchi on the mighty Eureka! a killer must have for every admiror of true classic film (Japanese) film jewels. Up there high on my shelf next to everything by Bergman & Tarkovsky. Suffice to say another highest possible recommended release.
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on 31 December 2011
I'm posting this review in an attempt to rectify the ridiculous review by M.C.Wootton who clearly does not understand the purpose of reviews, comment on the films and their presentation, NOT on supplier performance on dates of availability. These films were directed by an acknowledged master film maker and although this set is not yet available I'm awarding 5* to ocounteract the misguided and misleading review I've already referred to. No prospective purchaser should be put off by such an illogical review!
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on 8 May 2015
My son really enjoyhed this, it was a gift.
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