So, Criterion’s new Dodesukaden came out earlier this week, and the reviews have been coming in accordingly.
Below, you will find a handful of (semi-)professional reviews of the DVD release. If you know of others, feel free to add to the list in the comments section!
Also, do note that Criterion has published a brand new conversation with Teruyo Nogami, where she discusses the making of Dodesukaden. But without further ado, here are my review summaries:
DVD Beaver calls the Criterion package a “must-own”, and pronounces it a clear improvement over the Mei-Ah version on every front. The video is described as excellent, the audio and subtitles really good, and the extras alright for the price range, with Stephen Prince’s liner notes specifically called “impressive”. The reviewer furthermore loves the film itself, which as you will see is not necessarily the trend in this review round-up.
DVD Talk give a thumbs up for the video quality, an “ok” for the audio, and a cautious thumbs down for the content, calling the drama “overly-simplified and flat, favoring writ-large symbolism over subtle realism”, while noting the “odd beauty” of Kurosawa’s impressionistic colours.
The DVD Town review echoes that of DVD Talk. It is actually interesting to note that both DVD Town and DVD Talk find the extras insufficient. Although the standard “It Is Wonderful to Create” episode is included, a commentary track would probably have gone a long way in boosting the release’s performance there.
DVD Verdict pronounces the DVD “not guilty”, although noting that even if it holds “artistic value”, the film is one of Kurosawa’s weakest. More praise is lavished upon Criterion for the quality of their transfer. As a side note, while reviewer Roy Hrab writes well, I was a little disappointed not to see Stuart Galbraith review the disc, like he has so often done for DVD Verdict’s takes on Kurosawa releases.
Greencine puts the film in the context of Kurosawa’s oeuvre, noting its place as an important harbinger to the works that would follow: “Dodes’ka-den is showy, but it points the way to Kurosawa’s later discipline in exploiting the gap between stylized ritual and emotion”. The Criterion transfer is praised, as usual.
The Film.com reviewer seems to like the film, calling it “a haunting interior look at society’s outcasts, failures, and rejects” whose “smattering of social realism mixes deftly with a strange melancholic whimsy”. The transfer gets yet another enthusiastic thumbs up.
Dodes’ka-Den is now available, among other places, from Amazon.com.