Kurosawa’s ‘Kagemusha’ Destined for Criterion Blu-ray

A scene from Kagemusha
Photo: Criterion Collection

Back at the end of March it was sadly announced Akira Kurosawa’s Ran would not be able to be release on Criterion Blu-ray due to some sort of a rights issue. This meant Criterion’s only May Blu-ray release would be The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which — if you read my review — was fine with me, but I am more interested in old classics rather than the new ones from Criterion and it now appears a Kurosawa gem is taking the place of Ran, with a much better selection if you ask me.

A scene from Kagemusha
Photo: Criterion Collection

While I am sure most people would rather see Yojimbo, Rashomon, Ikiru or Seven Samurai as the first Criterion Blu-ray, the just announced August 18 release of Kagemusha is fine by me.

A scene from Kagemusha
Photo: Criterion Collection

Just look at the three images in this post, all were taken from the Criterion DVD edition of Kagemusha and I absolutely cannot wait to see how this 3 hour epic goes from DVD to a Blu-ray disc with over five times the storage capacity.

The disc itself will include the same features as the original 2-disc special edition, which are listed directly below.

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince (The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa)
  • Lucas, Coppola, and Kurosawa (19 minutes, 2005), in which directors George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola discuss Kurosawa and their roles as executive producers of Kagemusha
  • A 41-minute documentary on the making of Kagemusha, part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
  • Image: Kurosawa’s Continuity, a new video piece that reconstructs Kagemusha through Kurosawa’s paintings and sketches
  • A series of Suntory Whiskey commercials made on the set of Kagemusha
  • A gallery of storyboards painted by Kurosawa and images of their realization on-screen
  • Theatrical trailers and teasers
  • Optional English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Peter Grilli and an interview with Kurosawa by renowned critic Tony Rayns

On top of this Criterion will be releasing the following films in August.

Jacques Tati’s comedy Playtime hits Blu-ray and DVD on August 18 with the following features:

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer with uncompressed stereo soundtrack
  • Video introduction by writer, director, and performer Terry Jones
  • Selected scene audio commentary by film historian Philip Kemp
  • Au-delà de “Playtime,” a short documentary featuring archival behind-the-scenes footage from the set
  • Tati Story, a short biographical film about Tati
  • “Jacques Tati in Monsieur Hulot’s World,” a 1976 BBC Omnibus program featuring Tati
  • Rare audio interview with Tati from the U.S. debut of Playtime at the 1972 San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Video interview with script supervisor Sylvette Baudrot
  • Cours du soir, a 1967 short film written by and starring Tati
  • Alternate international soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum

Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco hits DVD on August 25 with the following features:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Whit Stillman
  • Audio commentary featuring Stillman and actors Chloë Sevigny and Chris Eigeman
  • Four deleted scenes with commentary by Stillman, Eigeman, and Sevigny
  • Stills gallery with production notes by Stillman
  • Stillman reading a chapter from The Last Days of Disco, with Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards, his novelization of the movie
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by novelist David Schickler

Finally, Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman arrives on August 25 with the following features:

  • Restored digital transfer, approved by director Chantal Akerman
  • Autour de “Jeanne Dielman,” a 70-minute documentary, shot by actor Sami Frey and edited by Agnes Ravez, made during the filming of Jeanne Dielman
  • New interviews with Akerman and cinematographer Babette Mangolte
  • Excerpt from “Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman,” a 1997 episode of the French television program Cinéma de notre temps
  • An interview with Akerman’s mother, Natalia
  • Archival television interview excerpt featuring Akerman and star Delphine Seyrig
  • Saute ma ville (1968), Akerman’s first film, with an introduction by the director
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film scholars Ivone Margulies and Janet Bergstrom

For all the updated DVD and Blu-ray release dates be sure to visit our DVD and Blu-ray homepage often.