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Silent Naruse
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films Flunky , Work Hard; No Blood Relation; Apart from You; Every-Night Dreams; Street Without End

Silent Naruse


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Mikio Naruse
2011 | 320 Minutes | Licensor: Shochiku

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $44.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #26
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 22, 2011
Review Date: March 25, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

Mikio Naruse was one of the most popular directors in Japan, a crafter of exquisite melodramas, mostly about women confined by their social and domestic circumstances. Though often compared with Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi for his style and treatment of characters, Naruse was a unique artist, making heartrending, brilliantly photographed and edited films about the impossible pursuit of happiness. From the outset of his career, with his silent films of the early thirties, Naruse zeroed in on the lives of the kinds of people-geisha, housewives, waitresses-who would continue to fascinate him for the next three decades. Though he made two dozen silent films, only five remain in existence; these works-poignant, dazzlingly made dramas all-are collected here, newly restored and on DVD for the first time, and featuring optional new scores by noted musicians Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz.

Forum members rate this film 6.5/10

 

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PICTURE

For their 26th Eclipse set, Criterion presents five silent films by Japanese director Mikio Naruse over these three discs. The first dual-layer disc presents the films Flunky, Work hard and No Blood Relation, while the second dual-layer disc presents Apart From You and Every-Night Dreams. The third disc, which is single-layer, holds Street Without End. All five films are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

In general I think people will be rather surprised by the presentations here, though as a whole they still vary in quality in terms of their actual digital transfers. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the condition of the source materials are pretty bad, but seem to get better with each film. Flunky, Work Hard probably has the most damage, laced with plenty of chemical stains, scratches, and marks. All of the films have varying degrees of damage, though, with their own marks and scratches; splice cuts are possibly the most consistent problem across all of the films. Street Without End still has a large number of flaws but they’re not as frequent as they are in the other films in the set.

But despite the heavy damage present the digital transfers for a few of the films are strong. Shockingly I think the digital transfer for Flunky is possibly the best one, staying the most consistent and stable and presenting the strongest gray levels. No Blood Relation also has a stable transfer that remains consistently sharp. Disc two presents the more problematic transfers, starting with Apart From You. This one has more noticeable compression artifacts and also looks a little fuzzier in comparison to the transfers on the first disc. But Every-Night Dreams easily presents the worst transfer here, and it’s a rather horrendous mess. It’s incredibly faded and washed out, losing details. But it’s also laced with the most artifacts and looks to be interlaced or to have at least come from a video source; it’s laced with jagged edges, mild ghosting, and also presents distinct blocky patterns. It looks horrendous and is the hardest one to watch.

Street Without End takes a large step up from the previous transfer. Though it’s soft and fuzzy its transfer is nowhere near as problematic. Noise is an issue, especially in blacks, and I detected some halos, but these issues are not distracting.

So overall it’s a mixed bag. All of the films have been beat over the years unsurprisingly, and damage to the source is still heavy but the digital transfers themselves do vary wildly between each one, ranging from great to awful.

5/10

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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Flunky, Work Hard

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Flunky, Work Hard

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Flunky, Work Hard

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Flunky, Work Hard

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No Blood Relation

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No Blood Relation

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No Blood Relation

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No Blood Relation

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Apart From You

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Apart From You

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Apart From You

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Apart From You

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Every-Night Dreams

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Every-Night Dreams

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Every-Night Dreams

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Every-Night Dreams

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Street Without End

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Street Without End

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Street Without End

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Street Without End

AUDIO

All five silent films come with “silent” tracks which is the default option for each. Each film also comes with an optional score recorded specifically for their respective films. The scores, presented in stereo, sound to be newly recorded and unsurprisingly they’re of excellent quality and are fairly robust. In the end the scores sound good, though won’t blow you away.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Like every Eclipse set there aren’t any special features but yet again each disc comes with liner notes on their respective films, written by Michael Koresky. As usual they’re excellent reads.

1/10

CLOSING

Another great set of films from Criterion’s Eclipse line with offer a look into Naruse’s early career. Damage is extensive throughout all of the films but I was surprised by how much the actual digital transfers do vary here, with the older films amazingly delivering sharp transfers and one, Every-Night Dreams, possibly coming off as the worst presentation from Criterion in years. The set of films is great and comes as a high recommendation but in terms of quality the set is a mixed bag largely.




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