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The Mizoguchi Collection [DVD] [1936]

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Minosuke Bandô, Isuzu Yamada, Shôtarô Hanayagi
  • Directors: Kenji Mizoguchi
  • Format: Box set, PAL
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Mar. 2012
  • Run Time: 406 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004SXSRS2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,986 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

OSAKA ELEGY (1936) Ayako agrees to enter into an affair with her married boss after he promises to support her and her father THE STORY OF THE LAST CRYSANTHEMUM (1939) a young actor is forced to deal with his family after he becomes shunned by them over his new relationship. SISTERS OF THE GION (1936) Two giesha sisters disagree over how to deal with the men controlling their lives and livelihoods. UTAMARO AND HIS FIVE WIVES (1946) Utamaro, a great artist, lives to create portraits of beautiful women. And the brothels of Tokyo provide his models. A world of passion swirls around him and the women all vie for his attention

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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It can’t be emphasized enough that all four films in this Mizoguchi Kenji box are 5-star recommendations which should be in any serious film collection worthy of the name. Sisters of the Gion and The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums have long been celebrated as two of the most perfect films in existence while Ōsaka Elegy and Utamaro and his Five Women exist on a scarcely less exalted level. Alas, Artificial Eye’s presentation is woeful. All four have received overly dark and blurry transfers with extensive frame-jitter and clattery soundtracks. Mizoguchi’s visual aesthetic is extremely refined with great care paid to elaborately worked-out mise-en-scène and the extensive use of wide angle lenses in mostly mid to long shots. The blurry transfer (quite different from the pictures on AE’s box of this set!) often makes it impossible to make out actors’ faces and therefore much of the subtlety of their performances (and of Mizoguchi’s art) is lost. Time and again we can’t make out who is speaking to whom and characters blur into each other due to the same murky uniformity. Having purchased many immaculately restored Masters of Cinema DVDs of Murnau, Lang, Mizoguchi, etc, my first reaction was one of regret that MoC had not also taken up these films and honored them with the same treatment. I noticed Criterion (America’s MoC equivalent) has also released the same films (except for Utamaro) and on checking the reviews of them I noticed people there also complain about the same faults. I conclude the problem is at source and is unsolvable. MoC couldn’t do anything and passed them on to AE who have dumped them on the market dark, jittery and blurry and with no extra features at all. Basically we have a choice here.Read more ›
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AAA
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a master of cinema!
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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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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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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 set...it 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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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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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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