DVD Title
International Title
DVD Length Original Length
161 Minutes 183 Minutes
Company Year of Manufacture
Criterion 2000
Language Subtitles
Japanese English
Region Number of Discs
1 1
Aspect Ratio Sound
2.35:1 (Anamorphic) 1.0 Mono
Menus (English)
Chapters (28)
Trailers: Kwaidan

Criterion's release of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan doesn't make for a bad DVD, but it leaves some to be desired from the current standards set for Toho films on the format. To the company's credit, the video presentation here is quite nice, but the title really suffers from the lackluster audio presentation and the bare bones selection of complimentary material.

 Video: Star Rating

The video presentation on this release tends to fare well, although it still presents some noticeable blemishes. These lesser points tend to be confined to the shape of the actual print, which shows some noticeable wear and tear. For example, scratches are fairly frequent, while there are also moments where lines can be seen traveling the height of the picture. Grain is also fairly apparent through out as well.

On the bright side, the colors on this release are fantastic, and make good work of the color rich set designs in the film. The movie also looks very sharp, presenting a wealth of detail to the eye while also avoiding any heavy signs of edge enhancement. Other digital inconsistencies, like shimmering or artifacting, are also nonexistent on this release

Sadly, this is not the uncut version of the movie, as it's missing a huge chunk of around 20 minutes of running time from the original version.

Kwaidan is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs.

 Audio: Star Rating

Criterion kind of dropped the ball here. There is only one audio track present, which is the original 1.0 monaural format for the film. Unfortunately, this mono track has probably seen better days, as it sounds rather scratchy at points, and I'm not refereeing to the intentional audio distortions present in Kobayashi's film. Of course it's not bad enough to detract much from the overall experience, but the lack of quality should still be noticeable to even the most casual viewer.

The audio can be accompanied by, removable, English subtitles that correspond to the Japanese track.


Sadly, Criterion pulls through here with a fairly bare bones release. The trailer is present, but its condition does leave some to be desired as it contains numerous scratches and other signs of print damage. Other than that, there unfortunately isn't anything here to keep the viewer's interest beyond the main film.

On a side note, at least the menu presentation is nice, especially the separate themes being constructed around the chapters for each of the four stories.

 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, the disc was noteworthy back when it was released in 2000, but standards have improved so significantly since then that it only manages to be an adequate title against recent DVDs. The video presentation is good enough, though, that it's still highly suggested for those with an interest in the film, especially since there aren't any other region 1 alternatives to experience Kobayashi's award winning production. The cut nature of the movie here is very disheartening, though, and hopefully someone will release another DVD of the movie in the states that restores the entire feature.

- Anthony Romero  
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