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Masaki Kobayashi Against the System
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 4 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films: The Thick-Walled Room, I Will Buy You, Black River, and The Inheritance

Masaki Kobayashi Against the System


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Masaki Kobayashi
2013 | 440 Minutes | Licensor: Shochiku

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $59.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #38
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: April 16, 2013
Review Date: August 7, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

One of the most important filmmakers to emerge from Japan's cinematic golden age, Masaki Kobayashi is remembered in great part today for his three-part epic The Human Condition (1959-61), but that is just one of the blistering films he made in a career dedicated to criticizing his country's rigid social and political orders. He first found his voice-rebellious, angry, engaged-in the fifties, following his life-altering experiences as a soldier in World War II; the four films collected here, made during the same period as The Human Condition, reflect Kobayashi's coming into his own as an artist. He fought to get these powerful dramas made at a studio more oriented at the time toward quiet family melodramas, and they are unforgettable depictions of a postwar Japan troubled by identity crises and moral corruption on scales both intimate and institutional.

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

For their 38th Eclipse release, The Criterion Collection presents a collection of four films by director Masaki Kobayashi with Masaki Kobayashi Against the System. The 4 dual-layer disc set presents The Thick-Walled Room, I Will Buy You, Black River, and The Inheritance. The Inheritance is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, enhanced for widescreen televisions, while the other films are all presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

The transfers found here are all fairly strong, limited only by their respective source materials and the fact little-to-no restoration work has been done. The Thick-Walled Room is in staggeringly bad condition, with a heavy number of scratches, tears, marks, and debris. The damage is constant, never really letting up, and transitions between sequences are just a disaster. It doesnít completely mar the image but itís hard to ignore. From here, though, the condition of the prints gets better, with more infrequent damage, with The Inheritance probably coming off the best, with only some transitions and cuts presenting the most notable bits of damage, as does what looks like stock or archival footage.

Unfortunately The Inheritance, the only widescreen film in the set, has the most questionable transfer. Contrast looks to have been boosted severely, with blinding whites in cases, drowning out detail. Black levels also have a boosted look. Iím not sure if this is intentional but I somehow doubt it. The transfer also presents noticeable halos, shimmering effects, and some jagged edges.

The other transfers, despite the harsh conditions of the prints, actually come off surprisingly clean, almost filmic even. Noise and compression is minimal (noticeable mostly in some darker sequences,) edges are as clean as one could probably hope, and in motion the transfers are very clean.

In all the condition of the prints are rough but the transfers in most cases, are pretty strong.

6/10

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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The Thick-Walled Room

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The Thick-Walled Room

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The Thick-Walled Room

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The Thick-Walled Room

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The Thick-Walled Room

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I Will Buy You

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I Will Buy You

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I Will Buy You

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I Will Buy You

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I Will Buy You

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Black River

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Black River

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Black River

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Black River

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Black River

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The Inheritance

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The Inheritance

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The Inheritance

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The Inheritance

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The Inheritance

AUDIO

All four films present 1.0 Dolby Digital mono tracks. Theyíre fine, easy enough to hear, but a bit noisy and distorted, clearly representing theyíre age. Itís obvious no restoration has been done to the audio.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Michael Koresky provides excellent (as usual) liner notes for each title, but as usual thatís it in the way of features for this Eclipse release.

1/10

CLOSING

A wonderful collection of films that makes the set worth picking up, and despite the lack of any restoration work the transfers themselves are mostly strong.




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