Taking out a raincheck on crapping my pants
Holy crap, to celebrate Akira Kurosawa's 100th birthday, this December Criterion is releasing a 25-film DVD boxed set. AK 100 includes five new, set-exclusive films, four of which are new to DVD in Region One. I'm waiting to see if these are just-the-movies volumes like too many of their other big boxes of late or if they have the extras that I love and expect from the Collection. It's a handsome package -- nice touch to use a still of light and trees from RASHOMON as the spine image -- but it's not worth rebuying THE SEVEN SAMURAI for the fourth time if it's another bare-bones set. Great Xmas gift for a budding cinéaste ... who you have at least $300 worth of love and affection for.
Here's the list of movies and a little DVD-nerd jabber.
Sanshiro Sugata, 1943 [AK 100 EXCLUSIVE]
The Most Beautiful, 1944 [AK 100 EXCLUSIVE]
Sanshiro Sugata Part Two, 1945 [AK 100 EXCLUSIVE]
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail, 1945 [AK 100 EXCLUSIVE]
No Regrets for Our Youth, 1946 [available in the Eclipse: Postwar Kurosawa set, no extras]
One Wonderful Sunday, 1947 [Eclipse: Postwar Kurosawa set, no extras]
Drunken Angel, 1948 [single-disc release, packed with features]
Stray Dog, 1949 [single-disc release, packed with features]
Scandal, 1950 [Eclipse: Postwar Kurosawa set, no extras]
Rashomon, 1950 [single-disc release, packed with extras]
The Idiot, 1951 [Eclipse: Postwar Kurosawa set, no extras]
Ikiru, 1952 [two-disc set, packed with extras]
Seven Samurai, 1954 [fourth edition recently released as a fully loaded three-disc set]
I Live in Fear, 1955 [Eclipse: Postwar Kurosawa set, no extras]
Throne of Blood, 1957 [single-disc release, packed with extras]
The Lower Depths, 1957 [two-disc set, split with Jean Renoir's version of the Gorky story, AK's disk packed with extras]
The Hidden Fortress, 1958 [single-disc release, features interview/confession with George Lucas]
The Bad Sleep Well, 1960 [single-disc release, features making-of and essays]
Yojimbo, 1961 [single-disc release, packed with extras; also available bundled with Sanjuro]
Sanjuro, 1962 [single-disc release, packed with extras; also available bundled with Yojimbo]
High and Low, 1963 [single-disk, no extras save a single-sheet essay by someone who's not Donald Richie, damn them]
Red Beard, 1965 [single-disc release, features audio commentary and Richie notes]
Dodes’ka-den, 1970 [single-disc release, features movie-specific Kurosawa documentary, theatrical trailer and booklet with an essay and a Nogami interview]
Kagemusha, 1980 [2-disc set, packed with extras]
Madadayo, 1993 [AK 100 EXCLUSIVE. It's new to Criterion, but not DVD; Wellspring released a single-disc edition with a few extras, like Kurosawa's storyboards for the film]
The box doesn't include the out-of-print Criterion RAN  nor the Renoir half of THE LOWER DEPTHS, duh. While I'm blathering on: HIDDEN FORTRESS and the previous editions of SEVEN SAMURAI, YOJIMBO and SANJURO were packaged together as the box "Akira Kurosawa: Four Samurai Classics," which is the set that I bought 7S for the second time. I was young and foolish then, and thought that they wouldn't bring the then-OP YOJIMBO and SANJURO back into print.
Anyway, it looks to me like they have a second Eclipse box almost ready to go at the top of the film list -- "Wartime Kurosawa," with the two SANSHIRO SAGUTAs, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, THE MEN WHO TREAD ON THE TIGER'S TAIL, with just THOSE WHO MAKE TOMORROW to prep for a release -- and they are very good about making the fraction of boxed-set-only material available to their patrons who bought the individual disks as they came out. Kurosawa reportedly hated making TOMORROW and deleted it from his filmography, but not even the gods can change the past; tough shit Akira, you and Orson Welles can kill some time trading sob stories about making TOMORROW and THE STRANGER over lunch in the auteur afterlife.
So, that leaves, what for Kurosawa on DVD? BCI put out a rock-solid edition of THE QUIET DUEL; Kino has an inexplicably terrible presentation of DERSU UZALA available; the Warner edition of DREAMS is so absurdly cheap that it must going OP soon, I hope to make way for a Special Edition; and RHAPSODY IN AUGUST exists on DVD, which is all I'll say for it. Good grief, I think that's it -- in your face, Welles!