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The Eel [DVD] 
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After an eight-year prison sentence for murder, Tajuro chooses to start a new life as a barber in a small town which offers perfect isolation from his fears. As a favour to the town priest he agrees to help a young woman with a troubled past by offering her job as his assistant. However, when he least expects it, her past is about to colllide with his. Winner of the 2007 Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Catching his young wife having sex with another man, a jealous husband stabs her to death. Hardly the regular way to start a comedy but, as a filmmaker, Shohei Imamura has always operated according to his own rules. The Eel, his first film after an eight-year break, traces the slow rehabilitation of a man self-exiled from society. The murder serves as prelude to the main action in which, having served eight years in jail, Takuro Yamashita is paroled to a remote lakeside settlement. He sets up as the world's least talkative barber, his sole confidant the titular eel. But the arrival of a troubled young woman slowly changes his outlook on life. It could easily fit the formulaic Hollywood feel-good drama, but Imamura's idiosyncratic vision and oblique narrative style keeps the film pushing away from conventionality. Surreal, dream-like episodes collide with bursts of near-slapstick and quiet moments of lyrical beauty. The privacy of the characters is always respected, and to the end Takuro remains an enigma. As slippery as an eel, the film is a beguiling peculiarity of a movie with a flavour all its own. --Philip Kemp --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But what an absolutely diabolical release it is. This film has been given a 4:3 Letterbox release, rather than the advertised 16:9 format, that it really should be. The back cover of the release, clearly states 16:9, and I had pre-ordered this ages ago, because I was keen to get a decent version on disc. (My old Artificial Eye VHS tape is on its last legs!)
Upon arrival, and after starting the disc, you are unfortunately rewarded with a great film, in a mediocre form: a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic box in the middle of your TV screen, that you have to manually zoom to fill up. When you do so, the subtitles and picture lose clarity and sharpness, and this immediately takes you out of the immersive world that the film wants to give you.
On top of this, there are no extras of any kind. No trailer for the film, no trailers for other Artificial Eye releases, no notes about the film, no featurettes, nothing. This is truly, the barest of bare-bones releasing! Worse-still, in the Setup Menu, you get the wonderful choice of switching the English Subtitles on or off! Thanks! What a great choice!
I'm really disappointed in Artificial Eye for releasing this great film in such a mediocre version! As such, I cannot recommend that other people buy this version, without them being made aware of the picture issue. It's not as sharp as it could and should be; the lack of extras is exceedinly disappointing, but it is criminal to release ANY film made in a Widescreen format, in a non-anamorphic manner onto DVD or Blu-Ray in this day-and-age!
The parallel life of an eel (his confidant) with it's journey in the wild adds the quirky japanese moral undertone.
Like a zen tea ceremony where everything has to drop into place for true serenity this feel good film similar to Tampopo where the struggle is to find happiness through the perfect bowl of noodles.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Takuro Yamashita(Koji Yakusho)is released from prison after serving 8 yrs for killing his adulterous wife.He leaves with his only friend in the world,yep the eel. Read morePublished on 3 Jun. 2012 by Mark Pearce