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Region 2 ‘Ran’ released on November 20th in the UK

Optimum Releasing is putting out a new region 2 DVD version of Ran on November 20 this year.

MovieMail.co.uk indicates that the double disc release will include the documentary “A.K.” by Chris Marker, but does not seem to have any of the other extras present in the region 1 Criterion Collection DVD.


Discussion

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Idyllopus

We have an older videotape of “Ran”. I was wondering if you know if there was material trimmed from the original movie. My husband and I both saw “Ran” in the theater when it was first released and we both believed the shadow battle scenes lasted considerably longer. Or maybe it is the small screen that reduces their poetry and drama.

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vili

Hi Idyllopus!

I don’t personally know of any official alternative cuts. However, if you had a pan & scan version of the film, that might be the reason.

I have watched a pan & scan version of Ran, and it was torture. While all of Kurosawa’s widescreen films use the visible area to their fullest, Ran I feel takes it to the extreme in many shots. Consequently, you get scenes with two characters talking who are positioned at the opposite ends of the shot. When they pan and scan that, you then end up with two floating noses talking to each other, as the rest of the characters are cut out.

Alternatively, if your tape was not an original one but taped off the TV, broadcasters tend to cut films to make them fit into their programming slots.

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Idyllopus

Should have done this before writing. I dug out the tape and it’s the early Fox release. The run time is 160 minutes so no cutting but the product details at Amazon don’t give it as widescreen, so perhaps it wasn’t. I don’t recollect now as it’s been a while since we’ve watched it (I so disliked this tape I only watched it a handful of times) and since our last viewing I find something has happened to the videotape and that it’s ruined. So will have to get the DVD!

When Ran was released, we happened to be fortunate to view it on one of those old massive theater screens. The scenes of the battle with the shadows of the clouds passing over the field were overwhelming.

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vili

Wow, lucky you. I have never seen Ran on the big screen, just on the television at home. But then again I am too young to have had the chance of seeing any of Kurosawa’s films in the cinemas when they were released.

Yet, I have been able to catch (and run) a few film club showings, so I have seen some of the older films on the big screen. But Ran, Kagemusha and Dersu Uzala should all be breathtaking, and I really need to see them one day like that.

Maybe I’ll just take my DVDs and rent a screen. ­čśë

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Jeremy

I wish, I could of see a Kurosawa film on a cinema screen, I was too young to ever have the chance when the last few were release. I’ve been thinking of one day renting a theater screen for a showing. However the only current DVD that looks good on a big screen is the new C.C. Seven Samurai with use of a highend upscaling DVD player. I hope in the future Criterion will treat Kurosawa’s other films like they have Seven Samurai and near to be release Yojimbo, Sanjuro.

Vili, I think you got the whole pan and scan problem right, the scenes dont give the same feeling when its scaled to 4:3, this is what likely gave Idyllopus a bad feeling

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Idyllopus

Yes, saw Ran on the big big big screen. Saw Kagemusha on a smaller screen but was still large by today’s theater’s standards and it, again, was stunning. Epic and heart-breaking, but epic in the Kurosawa way that his compassion instead keeps one focused on humanity, every minor foot soldier slipping the hive-like war machine and assuming a real immediacy. A curious combination of respect for the commitment of the individuals sacrificing their lives, while at the same time dissolving one in a sea of catastrophic uselessness and anguish. No way possible it could be duplicated today with computer/special effects.

I’ve not viewed any of the older films on anything other than the television screen. “Throne of Blood” would be something to see.

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vili

Idyllopus — it is interesting how you mention again that the screens in the olden days were bigger in the States.

This is new to me, as here in Europe screen sizes have, if anything, been getting bigger in the past decades. Of course, you get a lot of variation as most multiplex cinemas have one or two huge main screens, and then a lot of smaller screens for other films. Is this not the case in the States?

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Idyllopus

The multiplexes here have small screens, at least in Atlanta and from my experience. If in the past ten years this has changed, I’m unaware of it. The independents, to compete, carved up their screens, and many of the independents no longer exist. If there has been a big change in the past ten years, I’m unaware of it, and I was just picking my husband’s brain for what he knew but he says that’s how it is still, as far as he’s aware. Indeed, over ten years ago I completely stopped going to the theater because of poor projection quality, the sound was usually bad and quite loud, and the small size of the screen ended up being able to not compete with my renting a film, viewing on my television and trading off a lacking communal screen experience for my instead being able to rewind and study a film. In this respect I’m not the best person to ask for there may be better theaters now in Atlanta and I’m unaware of them.

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vili

Thanks for your response, Idyllopus. It might also partly explain why the American cinemas are struggling to draw in audiences these days. With home cinema configurations constantly getting better, I don’t really know why someone would like to go and see anything on a small “big” screen in a room that smells of butter.

I also totally agree with the loudness problem — also here most theatres play films far too loud for my ears. I am also annoyed by the fact that so often the projector configuration is not optimal, and you lose a few centimetres of the picture either above or below the intended frame.

The communal experience, meanwhile, is interesting to study. I have had the privilege of living in a few different countries, and I can tell from my own experiences that watching something like a comedy is great in countries like the Mediterranean ones or Japan — people really react to the film (although differently).

In Scandinavian countries, meanwhile, the room is always dead quiet. Which is not that much fun when watching comedies, but really good for more serious films, which in turn are a bit problematic to watch in some countries where people actually start talking over the film.

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Jeremy

I am bit confused as to why both you consider a very large screen size to be important, if anything the screens in the USA are way too large, this is only done so as to cram as many people as possible in a theater so as every seat has a decent view.
The best theaters in Texas (also rated the best in Texas by critics) are the Alamo and Angelica, there screens are rather small, only a few feet larger then a someones home theater room.
A smaller screen of 15′-25′ doesnt require a person to scan across the picture and with only 50-100 people in the room it gives a nice feeling, and allows to film to connect more. The huge 70-100′ screen are distracting and give no increase to visual offering packed full of people who dont seem to have a attention span over 20mins

Home theaters have become fantastic , I being a person who goes to great expensive building one, but to consider it a replacement of the smaller independent theaters, I feel is wrong, In Houston the oldest film theater is in plans to be torn down to build a huge multi-plex, as to why people think a larger screen, bigger room and louder sound make a film better is confusing to me.
The biggest problem with larger chain theaters are they only show films that cater to young-teens, only the smaller independent theaters offer the more art, small release films.
If Kurosawa was alive today and made a film, I would doubt the larger theaters would screen the film, they only want short, teenager marketed films, and the ability to cram as many people in a room as possible, while selling them $10 popcorn. It doesnt make good business sense to show a 3hour film without a large market, however the independents cater to this market

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Vili Maunula

Jeremy, I don’t personally think that the size of a screen really matters after a certain size. That is to say, my 43 inch TV is too small for a real cinematic experience, but just about all of the screens in the cinemas I have seen films in are perfectly adequate. In fact, when I go to the movies, I go to the smaller cinemas that have smaller screens but better movies. The only difference the screen size really makes to me after a certain point is in terms of the distance you want to be seated from the screen.

What I meant to say above was that if indeed screens in the US have become smaller over the years, while home theatres are getting bigger and more affordable, that might explain why the attendance numbers are falling. There are, of course, other reasons as well for dwindling ticket sales.

But if the only difference between your home viewing experience and the cinema going experience is the time it takes and the fact that you will be sitting next to some random person in the cinema, I don’t quite see the point in going to the cinema.

Bigger screens, however, while not necessarily adding to the movie itself, can add to the experience.

I am, of course, mainly writing this with the general audiences in mind. The smaller-scale art cinemas should actually not have this problem with their audiences, as they are (at least here) screening films that are hard to get hold of, and therefore there is an added incentive to go to the cinema. Most Hollywood films, meanwhile, you can buy on DVD (with extras) some half a year after their theatrical run for the price of two or three movie tickets.

In connection with screen sizes, you made a rather good point earlier about most of the current Kurosawa DVDs not really being up for big screen projection. I hadn’t really thought of that, to be honest. And I am now starting to understand a bit more why Criterion seems to be concentrating on putting out new versions of the big classics that they have already done, and not aiming to release some of the older, unavailable, Kurosawa.

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