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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 12:57 am 
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Three Films by Hiroshi Teshigahara

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One of the most acclaimed Japanese directors of all time, Hiroshi Teshigahara distinguished himself in the sixties with a series of sinuous, atmospheric, and daring films. Teshigahara found his spiritual partner in novelist and screenwriter Kobo Abe, with whom he collaborated on these Kafkaesque portraits of identities in peril, films that captivated mainstream audiences while also touching the edges of the Japanese avant-garde. The existential ghost story Pitfall (Otoshiana), the shocking, erotic fable Woman in the Dunes (Sunna no onna), and the sci-fi–tinged nightmare The Face of Another (Tanin no kao) are among cinema's enduring enigmas and rarest pleasures.

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The Face of Another

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A staggering work of existential science fiction, The Face of Another dissects identity with the sure hand of a surgeon. Okuyama (Yojimbo's Tatsuya Nakadai), after being burned and disfigured in an industrial accident and estranged from his family and friends, agrees to his psychiatrist's radical new experiment: a face transplant, created from the mold of a stranger. As Okuyama is thus further alienated from the strange world around him, he finds himself giving in to his darker temptations. With unforgettable imagery, Teshigahara's film explores both the limits and freedom in acquiring a new persona, and questions the notion of individuality itself.

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Pitfall

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When a miner leaves his employers and treks out with his young son to become a migrant worker, he finds himself moving from one eerie landscape to another, intermittently followed (and photographed) by an enigmatic man in a clean, white suit, and eventually coming face to face with his inescapable destiny. Hiroshi Teshigahara's debut feature and first collaboration with novelist Kôbô Abe, Pitfall is many things: a mysterious, unsettling ghost story, a portrait of human alienation, and a compellingly surreal critique of soulless industry, shot in elegant black-and-white.

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Woman in the Dunes

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One of the 1960s' great international art-house sensations, Woman in the Dunes was for many the grand unveiling of the surreal, idiosyncratic world of Hiroshi Teshigahara. Eiji Okada plays an amateur entomologist who has left Tokyo to study an unclassified species of beetle found in a vast desert. When he misses his bus back to civilization, he is persuaded to spend the night with a young widow (Kyoko Kishida) in her hut at the bottom of a sand dune. What results is one of cinema's most unnerving and palpably erotic battles of the sexes, as well as a nightmarish depiction of the Sisyphean struggle of everyday life—an achievement that garnered Teshigahara an Academy Award nomination for best director.

STANDALONE SPECIAL FEATURES

• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Video essay on the film from 2007 by film scholar James Quandt
• Four short films from director Hiroshi Teshigahara's early career: Hokusai (1953), Ikebana (1956), Tokyo 1958 (1958), and Ako (1965)
Teshigahara and Abe, a 2007 documentary examining the collaboration between Teshigahara and novelist Kobo Abe, featuring interviews with film scholars Donald Richie and Tadao Sato, film programmer Richard Peña, set designer Arata Isozaki, producer Noriko Nomura, and screenwriter John Nathan
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Audie Bock and a 1980 interview with Teshigahara

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SET-EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL FEATURES

• New, restored high-definition digital transfers
• Video essays on all three films by critic and festival programmer James Quandt
• Four short films by Hiroshi Teshigahara: Hokusai (1953), Ikebana (1956), Tokyo 1958 (1958), and Ako/White Morning (1963)
• A new documentary about the working relationship between Teshigahara and Kobo Abe, including interviews with Japanese film scholars Donald Richie and Tadao Sato
• PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by James Quandt, Howard Hampton, Audie Bock, and Peter Grilli and Max Tessier's 1964 interview with Teshigahara


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:03 am 
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bcsparker wrote:
Anybody know if Woman in the Dunes is getting a R1 DVD rerelease? I read the book and have been itching to see the film. Any info appreciated.

Last thing anybody heard Image no longer had the rights and were intimating Criterion was planning on a release. The Asmik ace edition is nearly perfect, I'd say. Not sure about the seamless branching (can you lose quality doing this?), and who knows what version (124 or 147min) Criterion would release if they do (they seem very different to me, but more in feeling than in plot). This might be another case similar to Fanny and Alexander where there's the original director's cut, and then there's the international award winning cut.

Whoever puts this out should really have something that tells you more about the Director, and his other artistic expressions. Gardening, sculpture, and whatnot.

The movie itself is incredible. Takemitsu's amazing score reminds me of Penderecki's more suspense filled work, I can't think of the film without hearing the scathing violins as the professor marches up the sand dunes at the beginning. The beautiful Kyoko Kishida who is also memorable for Jigoku and, being almost unrecognizable in, An Autumn Afternoon as the bartender who plays "Captain of the ship" (according to the notorious subtitles on the Panorama disc) for Ryu Chishu and dancing friend.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 12:55 pm 

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I saw "Woman In The Dunes" in the Boston area the other day. It looked like a print from the original release. I had last seen this some 10 years ago when it was re-released.

The film is still great, although the sexual voyeurism scene with the villagers whooping it up really does not fit in at all. I noticed that the end credits did not translate information about the missing man as did the re-release version. I hope we get a great Criterion edition of this sometime down the road.

A friend who attended with me said that he thought there should be more
information about the man's past life in Tokyo and noted that IMDb has a actress credit for his wife (in flashbacks). The film I saw ony has her in a dissolve/daydream scene. Does the original 148 minute Japanese version feature actual flashbacks to his old life?

Thanks,

Panda


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 1:52 pm 
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bcsparker wrote:
Anybody know if Woman in the Dunes is getting a R1 DVD rerelease?

According to DVDBeaver, the mighty fine Japanese release is R0 NTSC. Of course, if there is in fact a Criterion waiting in the wings, it's probably worth waiting.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2005 11:38 pm 
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I am think of purchasing Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes",
though Mr Tooze at DVD Beaver confirms that the Image transfer is too dark. I would love to buy the Japanese Asmik version but is almost three times the price and I am a cheap bastard.

Has anyone heard of a "Woman in the Dunes" re-release in the pipeline?

DVDBeaver


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:16 am 
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Besides, The Image/Milestone DVD of Woman in the Dunes is long OOP, and priced at $95 and up at Amazon Marketplace.

I'd encourage you to wait patiently like the rest of us.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 6:22 am 
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There are also rumours of the BFI putting a release together. No details as yet though...


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:06 pm 
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I think it can be safely said that both Criterion and the bfi are dragging their feet on this one.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:53 pm 
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peerpee wrote:
I think it can be safely said that both Criterion and the bfi are dragging their feet on this one.

Part of me is hanging on to the hope that Criterion will put this in a box with the three other Abe collaborations, and the delay might have something with the difficulty of obtaining clearance for Man Without A Map (murky reasons why this one didn't have subs in the R2 Japan release.) Since this would be one of the few Academy Award winners in the collection, you'd think it would be a no-brainer (not to mention that someone's already done a nice transfer.)

Speculation aside, the R2 Japan is gorgeous, and certainly worth the money. Maybe just keep an eye on eBay, as I've found good deals on a few Japanese titles there (used) in the past.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 5:56 pm 
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Quote:
Part of me is hanging on to the hope that Criterion will put this in a box with the three other Abe collaborations, and the delay might have something with the difficulty of obtaining clearance for Man Without A Map (murky reasons why this one didn't have subs in the R2 Japan release.)

I hope they don´t release a box, but put them out as single releases, for to fork over another $ 100 + for only one film missing in my collection would be dire...

And: yes, the Asmik Ace box is stellar...no need to double dip, if Criterion...


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 2:57 pm 
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Steven H wrote:
Since this would be one of the few Academy Award winners in the collection

This piece of misinformation keeps popping up in the most unlikely places. Woman in the Dunes was nominated for two Oscars, but did not win any. It lost the 1964 Foreign Language Film Oscar to De Sica's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and when Teshigahara became the first person not of European descent to be nominated for Best Director in 1965, he lost to Robert Wise for the Sound of Music.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 11:36 pm 
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Brian Oblivious wrote:
This piece of misinformation keeps popping up in the most unlikely places.

Thanks for clearing that up. I think I was getting it's Cannes win confused with it's Oscar nominations.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 1:22 pm 
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Quote:
Woman in the Dunes/Suna no onna (Teshigahara Productions, 1964). Dir Hiroshi Teshigahara. Wrt Kobo Abe, based on his novel. With Eiji Okada, Kyoko Kishida. (123 min, 35mm print courtesy of Janus Films)

Antonio Gaudi (Teshigahara Productions, 1984). Dir Hiroshi Teshigahara. (72 min, 35mm print courtesy of Janus Films)
Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu (Alternate Current/Les Films d'Ici/La Sept-ARTE/NHK, 1994). Dir Charlotte Zwerin. (58 min, U-matic video)

A documentary on the great Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi, Teshigahara's film is an enchanting visual poem without dialogue (except for a brief interview with Gaudi's assistant), and accompanied by Takemitsu's stunning score and sound effects. The score consists of four Catalonian folk pieces which have been electronically altered or combined with other sounds. Preceded by filmmaker Charlotte Zwerin's behind-the-scenes look at the celebrated composer, focusing on his film work and intercutting excerpts from his films with interviews with Takemitsu and many of the Japanese directors he worked with (including Masaki Kobayashi, Nagisa Oshima, Masahiro Shinoda and Hiroshi Teshigahara).


Last edited by Cinephrenic on Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 1:33 pm 
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I foolishly sold my Japanese Asmik DVD of Woman in the Dunes in January 2004, shortly after Milestone revealed that Criterion had purchased the rights. Now, nearly two years later, I'm really anxious for the DVD to be released.

I never saw Image's DVD of Antonio Gaudi (now out-of-print), but the one-two punch of Teshigahara and Takemitsu (not to mention the audacious brilliance of Gaudi himself) seem hard to resist.
Quote:
Preceded by filmmaker Charlotte Zwerin's behind-the-scenes look at the celebrated composer, focusing on his film work and intercutting excerpts from his films with interviews with Takemitsu and many of the Japanese directors he worked with (including Masaki Kobayashi, Nagisa Oshima, Masahiro Shinoda and Hiroshi Teshigahara).

That would be the hour-long documentary, Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu (1994), which will make a nice supplement for the DVD.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 2:16 pm 
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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I'm wildly speculating a mammoth boxset containing all the Kobo Abe films Teshigahara made (Woman in the Dunes, Face of Another, Pitfall and Man Without a Map) with Antonio Gaudi and the Zwerin docu among the many extras.

I'm also wildly speculating that they will include a booklet a la Short Cuts with Kobo Abe's short stories in it. Hopefully, they will also port the extra disc of the Japanese boxset containing Teshigahara's shorts. And there you have it, the DVD boxset of 2006!

BTW, does anyone have pictures of the Japanese boxset? I once recall seeing it in all its graphic design glory in a forum somewhere.

I remember seeing it unfolded, showing the beautiful graphic art contained inside of the box.

The artist that did this also did the Toshio Matsumoto one. Both gorgeous beyond geek belief.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:14 pm 
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Maybe, you have seen the OOP first edition, which had a different design here.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 6:03 pm 
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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That's it! Isn't it just beautiful? Anyway, let's all hope it materializes sooner than later. I'm tired of waiting - I want things now!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 9:13 pm 
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Annie Mall wrote:
I'm wildly speculating a mammoth boxset containing all the Kobo Abe films Teshigahara made (Woman in the Dunes, Face of Another, Pitfall and Man Without a Map) with Antonio Gaudi and the Zwerin docu among the many extras.

I'm also wildly speculating that they will include a booklet a la Short Cuts with Kobo Abe's short stories in it. Hopefully, they will also port the extra disc of the Japanese boxset containing Teshigahara's shorts. And there you have it, the DVD boxset of 2006!

Now that would be one hell of a box set... just don't tell MOC :-$


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 2:04 pm 
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BTW: The 2 MoC releases use the same stellar transfers as the Asmik Ace box (as far as I can see.) And the commentaries you'll get are solid. So, I don't see, why people wait for Criterion to release the same titles again. Why don't people go region free and buy the MOCs?

And wait patiently for the Criterion "Woman", and eventually for the MoC "Man" ?

And if this is no perspective, the Asmik Ace "Woman" is available as separate release with subs. (Long and short version included.) I´d rather ask for those, that are not available at all, but that`s another thread...


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 8:10 pm 
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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shirobamba wrote:
Nick won't like it, that you don't count him in, Annie!

I was referring to titles in the Criterion Collection. And since I still haven't bought the two MoC editions, I don't see why I wouldn't rather wait and see how Criterion handles these releases. If they turn out to be better than the MoC ones, I bet that even Nick would buy them, right Mr. Wrigley? :wink:

When you can have the best of both worlds, there's no need to be proud! :D


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 8:55 pm 
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I recently bought the two MoCs and will be pretty disappointed if I have to duplicate them in order to get the other titles in a box set from Criterion. Maybe they could make everyone happy by releasing them individually or in a gift set like they did with the recent samurai titles.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:52 am 
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Just announced on the Beaver site:

BFI's Upcoming Winter DVD Releases:

2. Hiroshi Teshigahara, "Woman of the Dunes"


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 5:21 am 
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Annie Mall wrote:
I'm also wildly speculating that they will include a booklet a la Short Cuts with Kobo Abe's short stories in it.

With the possible exception of Pitfall (not sure about that one), they're all novels, so it would be a pretty thick booklet! Incidentally, the recent Swedish edition of The Face of Another (the novel, not the film) spends quite a bit of time in its afterword slamming E. Dale Saunders's English translations of Abe's books, claiming he would frequently deal with the more difficult passages by deleting them altogether. Please add to your wish that Criterion commissions new translations! (The Swedish book is not without faults of its own: I was particularly annoyed that they put major spoilers in the foreword and essential biographical and cultural information in the afterword. That's just wrong!)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 6:00 am 
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I'm 99% sure that Pitfall was a previously unpublished story before Abe's screenplay. I don't believe it exists in any other form.

Abe's short stories, at least the ones collected in the book Beyond the Curve (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter), are excellent and well worth reading, even if they don't have any direct relation to the Teshigahara films. Apparantly there was a 1988 Swedish feature film made of "Friends" (whether the short story, the play, or both I do not know); that's something I would looove to see.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 6:05 am 
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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ola t wrote:
Annie Mall wrote:
I'm also wildly speculating that they will include a booklet a la Short Cuts with Kobo Abe's short stories in it.

With the possible exception of Pitfall (not sure about that one), they're all novels, so it would be a pretty thick booklet!

I was not aware of that but on second thought, they could always include them as DVD-ROM content, right?


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