Criterion in May

Criterion have announced the following titles for release in May...

Arriving on 4th May 2004 is the Samurai Trilogy: Three-Disc Boxed Set with a retail price of $69.95. Hiroshi Inagaki’s acclaimed Samurai Trilogy is a sweeping saga of the legendary 17th-century samurai Musashi Miyamoto (powerfully portrayed by Toshiro Mifune) set against the turmoil of a devastating civil war, and follows Musashi’s odyssey from unruly youth to enlightened warrior. This specially priced gift pack contains the three DVDs previously only available separately: Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto, Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple, Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island.

Arriving on 18th May 2004 are...

The Tin Drum - $39.95 - Danzig, Germany, 1924. Oskar Matzerath is born with an intellect beyond his infancy. As he witnesses the hypocrisy of adulthood and the irresponsibility of society, Oskar rejects both, and, at his third birthday, refuses to grow older. Caught in a baffling state of perpetual childhood, Oskar lashes out at all he surveys with piercing screams and frantic poundings on his tin drum, while the unheeding, chaotic world marches onward to the madness and folly of World War II. Honored with the Palme d’Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and the 1979 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language film, Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) is a truly visionary adaptation of Nobel laureate Günter Grass’ acclaimed novel, an unforgettable fantasia of surreal imagery, striking eroticism, and unflinching satire.

Features on this director approved double-disc set include:

  • New digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • Audio commentary by director and cowriter Volker Schlöndorff
  • Remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack
  • Isolated music track, featuring the score by Academy Award®-winning composer Maurice Jarre
  • Rare deleted scenes
  • Volker Schlöndorff Remembers The Tin Drum, a 21-minute audio/video montage featuring Schlöndorff’s thoughts and recollections about the film, along with on-set photos, storyboards, and images not included in the final film
  • An illuminating collection of video interviews, including Schlöndorff and actor David Bennent at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival; cowriter Jean-Claude Carrière and actor Mario Adorf; Schlöndorff and author Günter Grass during filming; and Schlöndorff after winning the Palme d’Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival
  • “The Platform,” a rare 1987 German recording of Günter Grass reading an excerpt from his novel The Tin Drum, accompanied by the music of famed improvisational percussionist Günter “Baby” Sommer
  • Reprinted excerpt of the screenplay’s original, unfilmed ending
  • Banned in Oklahoma, a documentary by Gary D. Rhodes following the child pornography lawsuit revolving around The Tin Drum
  • Production sketches, designs and promotional art
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • More
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse - $39.95 - A sequel to his enormously successful silent film Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Fritz Lang's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was recently released here in the UK by Eureka Video. Noel Megahey's review of that release can be found here.

Features on this Criterion double-disc special edition include:
  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound, presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.19:1 for the first time
  • Audio commentary by David Kalat, author of The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse
  • Complete French-language version of the film, Le Testament du Dr. Mabuse, filmed simultaneously by Lang with French actors
  • Excerpts from For Example Fritz Lang (Zum Beispiel: Fritz Lang), 1964 interview with Lang, directed by famed German documentarian Erwin Leiser (Mein Kampf)
  • Mabuse in Mind (Mabuse Im Gedächtnis), 1984 film by Thomas Honickel featuring an interview with actor Rudolf Schündler (Hardy in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse)
  • Comparison between the 1933 German version, the French version, and The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse, the edited and dubbed American version of the film
  • Interview with German Mabuse expert Michael Farin about the literary inventor of the series, Norbert Jacques
  • Rare production design drawings by art director Emil Hasler (M, The Blue Angel)
  • Collection of memorabilia, press books, stills, and posters
  • Liner notes by Tom Gunning, author of The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • More!
And then one week later on 25th May 2004 you can expect the following titles...

Smiles of a Summer Night - $29.95 - After fifteen films of mostly local acclaim, the 1956 prize-winning comedy Smiles of a Summer Night at last ushered in an international audience for director Ingmar Bergman. Set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, four women and four men attempt to juggle the laws of attraction amidst their daily bourgeois life. When a weekend in the country brings them all face to face, the women ally to force the men's hands in their matters of the heart, exposing their pretentions and insecurities along the way. Chock full of flirtatious propositions and sharp-witted wisdom delivered by such legends of the Swedish screen as Gunnar Björnstrand, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, and Ulla Jacobson, Smiles of a Summer Night is one of film history's great tragicomedies, a bittersweet view of the transience of human carnality.

Features include:
  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • Video introduction to the film by director Ingmar Bergman
  • New video conversation with historian Peter Cowie and writer Jörn Donner (producer, Fanny and Alexander)
  • Swedish theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Printed booklet including a new illustrated essay by renowned theater and film critic John Simon and an essay by film critic Pauline Kael
The Leopard - $49.95 - An epic of the grandest possible scale, Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard recreates, with nostalgia, action, and opulence, the tumultuous years of the Risorgimento—when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon) and his love for the beautiful daughter of a Sicilian merchant (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded a special Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, The Leopard translates the original novel, and the history it recounts, into a truly cinematic masterpiece.

The Criterion Collection is proud to present the film in two distinct versions: Visconti’s original Italian version, and the English-language version released in America. Features on this special edition three-disc set include:
  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • New transfer of the 161-minute American release, with English-language dialogue (including Burt Lancaster’s actual voice)
  • Audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie
  • A Dying Breed, a new hour-long documentary featuring interviews with Claudia Cardinale, screenwriter Suso Ceccho D’Amico, cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, Sydney Pollack, and many others
  • An exclusive video interview with professor Millicent Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania on the history behind The Leopard
  • Original theatrical trailers
  • Stills gallery of rare behind-the-scenes production photos
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • More!
Stray Dog - $39.95 - A bad day gets worse for young detective Murakami when a pickpocket steals his gun on a hot, crowded bus. Desperate to right the wrong, he goes undercover, scavenging Tokyo’s sweltering streets for the stray dog whose desperation has led him to a life of crime. With each step, cop and criminal’s lives become more intertwined and the investigation becomes an examination of Murakami’s own dark side. Starring Toshiro Mifune, as the rookie cop, and Takeshi Shimura, as the seasoned detective who keeps him on the right side of the law, Stray Dog (Nora Inu) from director Akira Kurosawa goes beyond a crime thriller, probing the squalid world of postwar Japan and the nature of the criminal mind.

Features include:
  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa
  • Akira Kurosawa: It is Wonderful to Create, a 32-minute documentary on the making of Stray Dog
  • A booklet featuring essays by film critics Terrence Rafferty and Chris Fujiwara and an excerpt from Kurosawa's autobiography, Something Like an Autobiography, in which he discusses the production of Stray Dog
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • More!

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