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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Japanese PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
    New video interview with director Masahiro Shinoda Selected-scene audio commentary by film scholar Peter Grilli, coproducer of Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu Original theatrical trailer

Pale Flower

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Masahiro Shinoda
Starring: Ryo Ikebe, Mariko Kaga, Takashi Fujiki, Chisako Hara
1964 | 96 Minutes | Licensor: Shochiku

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #564
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 17, 2011
Review Date: May 15, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

In this cool, seductive jewel of the Japanese New Wave, a yakuza, fresh out of prison, becomes entangled with a beautiful yet enigmatic gambling addict; what at first seems a redemptive relationship ends up leading him further down the criminal path. Bewitchingly shot and edited and laced with a fever-dream-like score by Toru Takemitsu, Masahiro Shinoda's breakthrough gangster romance announced an idiosyncratic major filmmaking talent. The pitch-black Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) is an unforgettable excursion into the underworld.

Forum members rate this film 8.9/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Criterionís Blu-ray for Masahiro Shinodaís Pale Flower presents the film in a new 1080p/24hz transfer in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this dual-layer disc.

I wasnít all that familiar with the film before first watching it so I was taken aback by its look. The film goes for presenting very dark blacks and incredibly bold, bright whites. The transfer adequately handles this look, with clean sharp whites, but blacks never come off purely black, sticking to a fairly dark gray.

The image stays consistently sharp despite a few sequences where it looks to be slightly out-of-focus. Grain is still intact but itís not overly aggressive, and there are rarely any spots or marks present in the print. Yet again Criterion delivers another solid black and white presentation.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed 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 lossless Linear PCM mono track Criterion provides is a little all over the place. Generally the trackís not bad, with Toru Takemitsuís unique score making for a relatively strong presence, actually making a punch when need be, but the dialogue is hollow and almost sounds to crack at times. Thereís also a slight hiss in the background, but itís not distracting.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Pale Flower unfortunately receives a fairly mild set of supplements starting with an interview with director Masahiro Shinoda. For 21-minutes Shinoda talks about the production of the film, the time period during which it was made, general production notes including why he chose to shoot the film in Yokohama instead of Tokyo, and the advantages of having a mostly-empty red-light district to film external sequences. He talks quite a bit about actor Ryo Ikebe, talks about the filmís two protagonists and their relationship, and then touches on Takemitsuís score and the filmís sound design. Itís a decent interview with some good stories (like the drama that revolved around shooting the gambling sequences) where the director reflects on the production but it isnít much more than that.

And then the final notable supplements is a selected scene audio commentary featuring film scholar Peter Grilli. This commentary isnít really about the film overall with Grilli specifically concentrating on Takemitsuís score and the filmís sound design. Running 34-minutes and divided into 5 sections Grilli gets into great detail about Takemitsuís involvement in the film, which, unlike other composers, was more hands on in the development and was there every step of the way. He explains how he would take sounds captured during shooting and then work them into the score, allowing for the films sound effects and music to almost blend into one another. Where most scores are done after the composer had seen a cut of the film Takemitsu worked on it while the shoot took place. Grilli does talk about other aspects of the film, like the importance of the character of Yoh and what he would have represented to Japanese audiences, but it specifically focuses on the Takemitsuís work. I would have preferred a full track for the film but Grilli delivers some intriguing information and keeps the track quick and breezy. Worth a listen.

The disc then closes with the filmís 4-minute theatrical trailer and the included booklet provides an essay by Chuck Stephens.

Iím disappointed by the lack of features but they supplements are at least all worthwhile.

4/10

CLOSING

The video presentation is sharp and is this releaseís strongest aspect, but the supplements, despite the fact that what we get is decent, leaves quite a bit to be desired.


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