||Audio Commentary by Donald Richie
||Toho Masterworks: Drunken Angel
||Kurosawa and the Censors
||28 page booklet on the film found in the case
Criterion unleashes another early Akira
Kurosawa production on DVD with, sadly,
some mixed results due to the material available.
The video and audio tracks are with obvious
faults, although the disc hits it out of the
park in relation to its wonderful array of
hard to say how harsh one should be on Criterion.
On one hand, the video quality here is notably
lacking. There is a lot of apparent print
damage, such as lines and scratches. The frame
is also unstable at points, causing the image
to shake up and down. Light shimmer, especially
during the opening credits, is also a problem
as the video takes on an almost strobing effect
at times. The movie also appears a little
soft, lacking a truly lush range of detail.
Still, on the other hand this is quite an
early production, nearly 60 years old at the
time of this release. This doesn't excuse
the video quality seen here, but does give
Criterion a bit of leeway at least for how
this release turned out.
Drunken Angel is presented in its
original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, or full screen.
Drunken Angel has one audio track,
which is a 1.0 mono presentation. The overall
quality is okay. Nothing sounds too bad, although
a few sequences of music do sound very slightly
distorted. The dialogue sounds slightly muffled
as well, especially when Okada is talking
about the pond, but nothing too severe.
The audio can be accompanied with, removable,
After a disappointing video and audio
presentation, Criterion goes out with a bang
by having a huge array of extras to supplement
this release. First up is another entry in
the Toho Masterworks series, dedicated to
Drunken Angel. The short starts out
by talking about general set design for the
director's other features, before diving into
the set work for the "bog" and other
aspects of the 1948 film. It also goes into
detail on the process of how Toshiro
Mifune came to be hired at Toho, and how
Kurosawa was indirectly involved in that.
The star attraction of this release, though,
is a new 25 minute video created especially
for this DVD release. Led by film scholar
Lars-Martin Sorensen, this extra was made
exclusively for this release. The start of
the video focuses on a history of censorship
in the years directly after World War II and
the strikes that struck Toho. Sadly, the video
takes awhile to actually get to what everyone
wants to see, which is the direct changes
and complaints that censors had with Drunken
Angel. However, when it does finally reach
to the meat of the presentation it's a very
interesting dissection of the changes and
the general comments censors had in regards
to the script.
The disc also contains a commentary track
by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie. The
commentary, while not the most informative
to be attached to a Criterion release, is
still a fountain of information. Sadly, Richie
gives a very, very dull delivery here that
makes this particular commentary a little
hard to wad through from start to finish.
Finally, the last extra is contained in the
booklet, which is 28 pages long. It includes
both pieces by culture historian Ian Buruma
along with excerpts from Akira
Kurosawa's biography, Something Like
an Autobiography, related to the movie.
line, far from the greatest of Criterion's
recent releases, one can at least admire the
company's efforts in stocking the disc with
a lot of bonus content to make up for the
lacking source had on hand for the movie itself.