DVD Title
 Drunken Angel
International Title
 Drunken Angel
Movie Length: 98 minutes Original Length: 98 minutes
Company: Criterion Release: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Anamorphic: No
Region: 1Discs: 1
Language/Sound: Order
Japanese (1.0 Mono)
· Menus (English)
· Chapters (18)
· Audio Commentary by Donald Richie
· Toho Masterworks: Drunken Angel (31 minutes)
· Kurosawa and the Censors (33 minutes)
· 28 page booklet on the film found in the case
Anthony Romero

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 extras.

 Video: Star Rating

It's 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.

 Audio: Star Rating

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, English subtitles.


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 Akira 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.


Bottom 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.