Aliens & SDF
Staff of Toho
||Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
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|Japanese (2.0 Mono)
- Menus (English)
- Chapters (27)
- Trailers: House
- Emotion, a 1966 experimental film by director Nobuhiko Obayashi (39 minutes)
- Constructing a House, interviews with Nobuhiko Obayashi, Chigumi Obayashi and screenwriter Chiho Katsura (46 minutes)
- House Appraisal by Ti West, director of 2009's House of the Devil (4 minutes)
Criterion has a history of releasing some of the most critically praised, influential and sometimes just utterly peculiar films cinema has to offer. Nobuhiko Obayashi's House is a rare subject that fits all three categories, becoming an unlikely critical darling in the decades since its original release. So it's no surprise that Criterion pulls out the stops for another great Blu-ray, presenting good video and audio along with a good selection of extras that the company both found in archives or painstakingly created.
Old or new titles, it's hard to go wrong with a video restoration by Criterion, and their efforts are well done for House. While a faint layer of grain is present and there are a few signs of very faint print damage, the print in general was restored very well. The colors in particular really pop on the new transfer, while looking natural, or at least as "natural" as one can say with anything in regards to House, without signs of saturation being applied. The clarity is crystal, with lush details as one would expect from the Blu-ray format.
House is presented in its
original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. For those who haven't seen the production before, this is the original aspect ratio. Many things with House are out of the norm, including the lack of Toho Scope for a Showa era theatrical release from the company.
The Blu-Ray contains a single audio track, which is the original monaural Japanese presentation. Audio wise, the track sounds great. In the booklet, Criterion detailed the immense amount of work that went into restoring the movie, which included amble work to remove discrepancies in the audio such as pops and crackles that had developed with age. Their efforts have paid off, as the film sounds flawless. In fact, the only flaw with the audio presentation is a lack of options present, such as a dub track or an attempt to add a multi-channel presentation to the film. For purists, though, Criterion passes with flying colors.
The disc comes with optional
English subtitles. The new subtitle track, supervised by Brett Sharlow, has pioneered the names for the female cast which had sometimes confused hobby subtitlers in the past who wanted to give them more normal names. Gorgeous was especially prone, called everything from her name in Romaji, "Oshare", to odd translations like "Angel".
Criterion has packed a few gems on this release in terms of extras, including a lush 24 page booklet with full color photos. For a full rundown of what's available on the disc:
- The first extra on the
disc is an early experimental film called Emotion that director Nobuhiko Obayashi worked on nearly a decade before his directional debut with House. The short film shows the director's penchant for the abnormal, and while it shows a lack of cohesion and overly artsy prose, it does share many similarities with House in style. It feels a bit long, but fans of the 1977 production will find interest in the early short.
- The behind the scenes feature "Constructing a House" is the real gem of this disc. Created for this release, the feature has modern interviews with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, his daughter Chigumi Obayashi who helped create scenarios, and screenwriter Chiho Katsura. They detail many elements about making the production, while going into detail about it's own abnormal creation and how it bucked the rigid structure that existed at Toho that delayed the movie's production for two years after the concept was approved. No detail is spared, but the feature is edited where even those with a mild interest in the movie will find the piece to be a fascinating glimpse into what was motivating the director and also the tribulations that went into making the film a reality.
- The disc also contains a short, four minute feature with House of the Devil's Ti West who praises the 1977 production. The extra feels a little on the fluffy side, although fans of the 2009 movie will likely enjoy hearing the influence this movie had on it.
- Finally, the disc also contains the movie's original theatrical trailer. The quality here could have been a little better, especially in regards to the audio, but for a trailer it's fine.
If you have any interest in abnormal cinema, or have seen House before and enjoyed it, Criterion's release is a no brainer to search out. It's highly unlikely the movie will ever be presented with this level of care or this faithfully again.
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