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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New audio commentary featuring David Bordwell, author of Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema
  • Excerpts from "Yasujiro Ozu and the Taste of Sake," a 1978 French television program looking back on Ozu's career, featuring film critic Michel Ciment
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Geoff Andrew and Donald Richie

An Autumn Afternoon


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Yasujiro Ozu
Starring: Shima Iwashita, Chishu Ryu, Keiji Sata, Mariko Okada
1962 | 113 Minutes | Licensor: Shochiku

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #446
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: September 30, 2008
Review Date: September 22, 2008

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SYNOPSIS

Yasujiro Ozu's final film is also his final masterpiece, the gently heartbreaking story of a man's dignified resignation to both life's ever-shifting currents and society's gradual modernization. Though widower Shuhei Hirayama (Ozu's frequent leading man Chishu Ryu) has been living comfortably for years with his grown daughter, a series of events leads him to accept and encourage her marriage and departure. As elegantly composed and achingly tender as any of the Japanese master's films, An Autumn Afternoon (Sanna no aji) is one of cinema's fondest farewells.

Forum members rate this film 7.9/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion presents Yasujiro Ozuís final film in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layered disc. The image has been pictureboxed.

In all I thought the image looked pretty good, much better than what I was expecting. Colours look pretty good, maybe a little washed, though I think this was the intended look of the film. Detail is excellent, the image looking quite sharp throughout in both close-up and long shots.

The print, for the most part, is in good shape as there is very little in the way of damage. Dirt and debris is pretty much unnoticeable, the extent of the problems relating to a slight flicker and the occasional jump. There was one issue near the beginning where it looked like frames were missing, though at first I thought it might be an issue with the disc possibly skipping. Seeing a post on our forum and then a link to a review on DVD Talk I learned that not only is this an issue with the Criterion release but it also looks to be an issue with releases from other regions as well. This isnít a huge issue overall (it only happened during the one sequence and didnít last all that long) but Iím unsure whether itís an issue with the print or maybe something in the digital transfer.

But despite this one issue it still looks pretty good, presenting a generally clean, sharp image.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The disc comes with a Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. It works very well for the film, not presenting any serious issues. Range is pretty good, music and voices sound natural with no edginess or distortion. In all a serviceable audio track.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This is a modest little release with only a couple of supplements, but since this is a lower-tier release (price wise, anyways) it makes it a bit of a bargain.

The first supplement is an audio commentary by David Bordwell. This is an excellent scholarly track that gives a thoughtful examination of the film, and also gives a great amount of information about Ozu and his career. He focuses a lot on Ozuís style from his framing and compositions to his cutting, which conveys some of the feelings in the scene, and also touches on his use of music (which Bordwell calls ďWeather MusicĒ for reasons he explains.) He goes over the themes and situations in the film and compares them to other films in Ozuís filmography. And he also gives some decent history on Japanese history in general, including working for the Japanese studio system at the time along with theater attendance. He is reading from notes, but itís not noticeable as he does easily breeze through, making for a very informative and entertaining commentary track.

The next supplement isnít as good but it has some interesting things in it. ďExcerpts from Yasujiro Ozu and The Taste of SakeĒ presents excerpts from a 1978 episode of a French program called Cine regards. Running 14-minutes the first half has interview bits with Michel Ciment and Georges Perec. This program acts as an introduction to Ozu who, based on how everyone is talking in the episode, was just being discovered outside of Japan (or at least in France.) The first half has Ciment and Perec discuss what makes Ozu a modern master, focusing on his style over the span of his career. The last half, on the other hand, is a little heavy handed and, shall I say, absurd. Iíll be honest in saying Iím not exactly sure what the makers were getting at during this last bit (how Ozuís films fit with modern Japan? With other forms of art in Japan? Ozu's work as poetry?) but it brings the feature to a halt and doesnít add much. It just seems like an odd piece, one sequence sticking out to me which involves a narrator talking about how Ozu would shoot many takes with his actors while we see two people practicing Judo. Some okay things but I canít say I got much out of it, preferring the commentary much more.

Moving on with disc supplements it closes with two theatrical trailers for the film.

And finally closing off the release is a 29-page booklet featuring essay by Geoff Andrew and Donald Richie. Andrewís essay is a nice examination of Ozuís last film (though he points out, as does Bordwell on the commentary, Ozu was still planning on making more films and was even in the process of making another) and Richieís briefly goes over Ozuís diaries that were discovered and published after his death. I rather liked this booklet over all, Richieís probably being the more interesting but it is unfortunately too brief.

Not much but I rather enjoyed the commentary and booklet and am quite happy with them on their own. And the fact the release is still in the lower price range despite the commentary makes it a bargain for a Criterion release.

6/10

CLOSING

Despite a couple of issues the transfer is quite nice, above what I was expecting (Iím always prepared for the worst when I visit films licenced from Shochiku,) the commentary is excellent, and the price is right, the disc being released in Criterionís lower price range. For me this makes this smaller release a bit of a bargain and an easy recommendation. Definitely worth picking up.


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