Seeing as this is a re-release, one would
expect the firm to fairly compensate the original
owners wishing to upgrade with enough extras
to make the endeavor worthwhile, and Criterion
does not disappoint. The two disc set for
High and Low is packed with supplemental
content, 90 minutes worth of content in fact.
Furthermore, it's all complete with removable
English subtitles to aid the viewer.
The first on the extra "chopping block"
is another episode in the Toho Masterworks
series for director Kurosawa, "Akira
Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful To Create".
This one dives deep into the High and Low
production, covering various aspects of the
movie that are complimented with interviews
with the cast and crew, including such figures
Nakadai and earlier ones conducted with
Kurosawa. The 37 minute feature also does
a good job of covering the movie's ending,
and the manner in which it changed several
times leading up to the final edit. This feature
is broken up into nine, selectable, chapters
for easier viewing.
After this comes a half hour interview with
Mifune that was conducted in 1981 for
the talk show Tetsuko's Room. Mifune
rarely ever made himself available for interviews,
so the one included here is a fairly rare
treat for fans. As one might expect from the
prestigious actor, he's a very elegant speaker
and truly knows nearly every angle of the
productions he's involved with, while at the
same time conveying a modest tone. Host Tetsuko
Kuroyanagi and Mifune talk about a variety
of topics, including his beginnings as an
actor at Toho and how he originally had planned
to be involved with photography before taking
on a job in front of the camera. The actor
also discusses his history as well, being
born in China before coming to Japan and his
stint in the military. Sadly, in regards to
the film work discussed, Mifune doesn't talk
about this production in particular, and tends
to speak more about the international involvement.
Some of Kurosawa's other projects and Mifune's
roles in them are discussed, though, such
Samurai (1954). That said, it's enduring
to hear Mifune pause before saying terms in
English, such as "50 million dollars"
which he says perfectly, and other aspects
that make it a joy for fans of the actor to
experience. This feature is broken up into
six, selectable, chapters.
Following this is another interview, this
time with actor Tsutomu Yamazaki who plays
the kidnapper in the movie. This interview
was conducted the same year of the DVD's release,
2008, by Criterion themselves. During the
chat, Yamazaki details his experiences working
on High and Low while making particular
note of his interactions with Kurosawa and
various aspects of the production. It's a
very detailed look at the movie, and covers
ground not already established in the Toho
Masterworks video already included, making
it yet another worthwhile extra for the set.
After this is a series of trailers, including
both the theatrical and a teaser. As a bonus,
a trailer for the US release of the movie
is also included, which is deliciously over
the top in its presentation and is interesting
to watch for that aspect alone.
As another bonus, the movie also comes with
an audio commentary by Kurosawa expert Stephen
Prince. Prince has done a number of these
commentaries already, and appears pretty skilled
at it by this point. His delivery, while not
the most exciting, is consistent and he more
than knows his stuff on the subject matter.
He does at times get bogged down a bit in
his discussions, leading away from what's
happening on screen for sometime, but takes
these opportunities to divulge a wealth of
information so one can hardly complain.
Finally, the last extra from this set comes
from outside the discs and is found in the
fairly large 35 page booklet included. The
book contains two essays on the production,
with one by critic Geoffrey O'Brien and the
other by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie.