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Postwar Kurosawa Collection from Criterion’s Eclipse

Eclipse: Akira Kurosawa Postwar CollectionIt has been announced that Criterion, as part of its new Eclipse series, is releasing a Kurosawa collection that gathers some of the director’s less available works from the immediate post-war period. The stylished box set will contain the movies I Live in Fear (aka Record of a Living Being), The Idiot, No Regrets for Our Youth, One Wonderful Sunday, and Scandal.

This is excellent news for those in Region 1, as none of these films have yet had a proper release under the region code. In fact, with the retail price tag of only $69.95 (reduced to $55.96 at the Criterion Store), the release is well worth considering also for everyone else. Not least so because two of the films, One Wonderful Sunday and No Regrets for Our Youth, are arguably now enjoying their first proper English-friendly DVD releases in any region!

As the price of the release suggests, these films will clearly not be receiving the famous “Criterion-treatment” that we have recently enjoyed with such brilliant releases as Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sanjuro. Criterion’s Eclipse series concentrates on presenting what they call “overshadowed classics” in “simple, affordable editions”. Do not, therefore, expect hordes of extras or state-of-the-art restoration. Yet, knowing the quality standards that Criterion sets for itself, it is almost certain that these releases have been made from the best materials available.

As for the release date, I have no confirmation yet as for when exactly the box set will be out. One source suggests January, but considering that the Eclipse release philosophy is to put out one box set each month, and that the current box set (Carlos Saura’s Flamenco Trilogy) is number #6, with Kurosawa #7, a November or December release would seem more likely. I will get back to you once Criterion confirms one way or another. according to Criterion the box set will be on sale from January 15, 2008.


Discussion

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Christopher

with the addition of these five and Drunken Angel, the good DVD count in the U.S. is somewhere around 25. It is almost time to start a list/count of movies that are left for release on DVD

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Ben

Yup, it is 25 exact with this set and DA coming.
All that is left are Sanshiro Sugata 1 & 2, The Most Beautiful, Tiger’s Tail, and Dodesukaden.
Not bad considering it is such a long filmography and the fact that it is the U.S. and a foreign director. Plus 20 out of the 25 are available on Criterion, which means decent to great additions.

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Laurence Watson

There’s 21 out in the UK… the only ones left being Dreams, The Lower Depths (still can’t believe this isn’t out) and all the pre-Mifune films. Rhapsody in August has been out of print for ages though.

I’m gonna jump for joy if Criterion actually manage to get Dodesukaden out there like the rumours suggest.

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Fabien

25 movies available on DVD in France too (but not the same ones than in the U.S.).
I already ordered several 40s movies at Mei Ah and others are available in reasonable/good quality french editions (Scandal, The Idiot, I Live in Fear), but this Postwar Kurosawa box is relevant to my interest.

I was wondering… don’t you count Those Who Make Tomorrow in the complete movie list?
Is’nt there any viewable edition of this one, even in Japan?

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Vili Maunula

For a number of reasons, but perhaps mainly because he wasn’t so keen to co-direct it in the first place, Kurosawa himself didn’t consider Those Who Make Tomorrow a part of his oeuvre. Consequently, it is usually not counted into the list of his canonical works.

I have, however, listed it in the “Other Movies with Kurosawa’s Involvement” section. Whatever happened to the film, I don’t know, but according to Stuart Galbraith IV, the movie has never been shown in Japan after its initial release, and was probably never screened outside of Japan, either.

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Fabien

Thanks for the precision.
(By the way, many thanks for your website, a very interesting one, which, sadly, I discovered only recently, though I’m interested in Kurosawa’s works since several years; I think I will stick around.)

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Vili Maunula

You are most welcome, Fabien. It will be good to see you around!

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Brent

Great news! If only it was in time for Christmas.

I can live with some dust scratches in the film. More important to me are well-written and accurate subtitles. I rented “I Live in Fear” on DVD a few years back, and the subtitles made it unwatchable.

I’m as so glad to hear these movies are getting some much needed attention.

The only Kurosawa film I’m still waiting to see Criterion tackle is Dersu Uzala. None of the DVDs available give it the treatment it deserves.

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Jeremy Quintanilla

It is great that Criterion does get some very good translators, to translate the movie with as little loss as realistically possible, as Japanese doesnt easily translate to English.

I too wish Criterion will get a hold of Dersu Uzala, but this is the most unlikely of the movies to ever get done.

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