Chushingura

Overview

The widescreen DVD of this Japanese classic (co-directed and produced by the late, great Akira Kurosawa) contains absolutely nothing other than chapter selections and the film itself, and as such will not be of much interest to anyone other than collectors. It's a shame that such a magnificent piece of filmmaking hasn't been given the treatment it so richly deserves (the film has been called the Japanese Gone With the Wind). There are a few aspects of the disc worthy of note. First and foremost is the soundtrack,...
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Overview

The widescreen DVD of this Japanese classic (co-directed and produced by the late, great Akira Kurosawa) contains absolutely nothing other than chapter selections and the film itself, and as such will not be of much interest to anyone other than collectors. It's a shame that such a magnificent piece of filmmaking hasn't been given the treatment it so richly deserves (the film has been called the Japanese Gone With the Wind). There are a few aspects of the disc worthy of note. First and foremost is the soundtrack, which is a Dolby Digital one-channel mono transfer -- the most one can expect, taking into consideration the source material. It seems that Image has done its best to preserve the look & feel of the film's original TohoScope (the Japanese answer to Panavision) presentation; the 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio has been well maintained and lends a sharp edge to the image quality and to Kazuo Yamada's cinematography, even though there is slightly more dust and scratching present than necessary. Overall, the lack of any extra features whatsoever, no matter how trivial, borders on criminal -- this film is an absolute staple of its genre and deserves much more. One can only hope that a special edition is in the works.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The legendary Japanese tale of the loyal 47 ronin has been filmed countless times, but received perhaps its greatest screen treatment in this epic 1962 version from director Hiroshi Inagaki. As a storyteller, Inagaki possessed a rare ability to create an action film that was both thrilling and intelligent, and these characteristics are present in Chushingura. Inagaki's vision of history is a romantic one, celebrating a time when honor was important, and filling the screen with gorgeous sets and even more gorgeous scenery. But he avoids simplicity in his approach, showing interest in the political dealing that goes on between the various characters and the intricacies of 18th century social customs. In some ways, Inagaki shows too much interest. At times the film slows to a crawl, but oddly enough, Chushingura is almost too short rather than too long. There are an awful lot of characters and story to chronicle, and as such Inagaki never spends as much time with just some of the characters as perhaps he should. With so much attention on such numerous characters, Inagaki has little time for action scenes until the finale, a stunning raid on Lord Kira's home by the loyal samurai. This climactic battle is flawlessly staged and edited, showing Inagaki at the height of his skills and putting most other action films to shame. And as much as Inagaki is nostalgic about the past, he is also critical of Japan's imperial ways, peppering the film with critical comments toward Japanese royalty, comments that probably would not have been allowed before WWII. Hiroshi Inagaki never received the international attention of many of his contemporaries, but Chushingura shows that he was a first-class filmmaker in his own right.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/27/2001
  • UPC: 014381989526
  • Original Release: 1962
  • Rating:

  • Source: Image Entertainment
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Dolby 5.1 / Mono
  • Sound: Dolby Digital, monaural
  • Language: Japanese
  • Time: 3:27:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Koshiro Matsumoto Kuranosuke Oishi
Yuzo Kayama Takuminokami Asano
Chusha Ichikawa Kouzuke Kira
Toshiro Mifune Genba Tawaraboshi
Yoko Tsukasa Yozenin
Setsuko Hara Riku
Tatsuya Mihashi Yasubei Horibe
Yosuke Natsuki Kinemon Okano
Ichiro Arishima Denpachiro Tamon
Norihei Miki Gayboy Geisha
Frankie Sakai Carpenter Goro
Keiju Kobayashi Lord Awaji
Yuriko Hoshi Otsuya
Yumi Shirakawa Ume
Kumi Mizuno Saho
Akira Takarada Gunpei Takada
Takashi Shimura Hyobe Chishaka
Michiyo Aratama
Technical Credits
Hiroshi Inagaki Director
Akira Ifukube Score Composer
Kisaku Ito Art Director
Kiyokata Seruwaka Choreography
Herman G. Weinberg Translator
Kazuo Yamada Cinematographer
Toshio Yasumi Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1
0. Chapters
1. Main title [3:56]
2. Part I: Blossoms [3:25]
3. Edo [5:04]
4. The values of life [3:51]
5. Lord Asano [3:39]
6. A visit from Lord Kira [7:04]
7. A matter of honor [6:22]
8. Receiving the envoys [5:38]
9. Asano's breaking point [7:18]
10. Formal questioning [5:53]
11. Following orders [4:37]
12. Kira's pain [2:01]
13. March 15, 1701: Couriers on the run [2:34]
14. The Asano Clan Castle in Ako [5:38]
15. The army of Lord Wakisaka [6:35]
16. Blood pledge [4:42]
17. Surrendering the castle [5:35]
18. Hyobu the protector [3:06]
19. Oishi's home in Yamashina [4:06]
20. Refuge in a brothel [6:48]
21. Sampei's honor [7:38]
22. Oishi gets the news [3:16]
23. Time for revenge; Off to Tajima [8:00]
24. Part II: Snow [3:00]
25. An Edo carpenter [5:15]
26. Okano proposes [6:41]
27. Kira's public appearance [2:31]
28. After the plans [4:23]
29. Duel with Tawaraboshi [3:11]
30. Imperial envoy: Mitsutada Obana [6:35]
31. Studying the plans [4:25]
32. Farewell to Lady Asano [6:55]
33. Time to get ready [6:25]
34. The Samurai gather [5:26]
35. Dropouts [4:35]
36. The loyal 47 [4:24]
37. The truth about Kuranosuké [1:40]
38. March on Kira's mansion [8:58]
39. The elusive Lord Kira [6:59]
40. Retribution [3:33]
41. Their final fate [5:09]
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