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My #2 film of all time, which has been sitting patiently atop (nearly) the list to the right, is finally getting first-class DVD treatment from Criterion!
It's the hard-to-find 1962 Japanese film Harakiri, aka Seppuku ([url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056058]imdb link[/url]). I originally saw it in a college class projected in 16mm. Later I saw it on VHS several times. There is a DVD available from Asia but I've never seen it so I can't attest to its quality. I once saw it make a screening in a local arthouse theater.
Here's the DVD description from Criterion:
[i]SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES:
* New, restored high-definition digital transfer
* New video interviews with legendary star Tatsuya Nakadai and acclaimed screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto
* Exclusive video introduction by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie
* A new essay by celebrated film scholar Joan Mellen and a reprint of her 1972 interview with Kobayashi
* Original theatrical trailer
* Poster gallery
* New and improved English subtitle translation
Wow, just incredible. Everything I could have imagined and more. I can't even begin to describe how elated I feel about this.
The film takes place during the fall of the samurai era. It begins with an umemployed samurai knocking on the door of a rich baron, saying that he's at the end of his rope and asking if he can commit harakiri on his property so as to die in an honorable location. Beyond that it's best to not know much else about what happens.
Suffice to say it has a beautiful, heartwrenching, masterfully tight screenplay, inredible acting, great -- but subdued -- action, and sublime B&W cinematography. Why it has sat so long neglected is a mystery, but one I won't care about any more in three months.
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