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New Criterions

Criterion have announced three discs for May, including one that will doubtless be snapped up by fans of a certain famously unavailable-on-DVD 1977 sci-fi film!

Indeed, George Lucas is featured on the DVD in question, supplying an interview as to how much the film influenced his work - the film in question being Kurosawa's samurai masterpiece The Hidden Fortress, whose plot about two peasant farmers, one tall and thin, the other short and fat, attempting to rescue a fugitive princess with the help of a legendary warrior (Toshiro Mifune) might just look a tad familiar - though here they fight with real swords rather than lightsabres. Thankfully, unlike their earlier widescreen Kurosawa releases, Criterion are giving it an anamorphic transfer and throwing in the original theatrical trailer.

The two other discs are less high-profile but no less exciting for fans of classic world cinema. Following up their stunning DVD of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (which we reviewed earlier this year), Criterion's second Luis Bunuel film will be the equally masterly The Diary of a Chambermaid, his only film in 2.35:1. Needless to say, the transfer will be anamorphic and will include the original trailer, an interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere and a text interview with Luis Bunuel.

And finally, there's Jacques Tati's neglected satirical masterpiece Playtime. Originally shot in 70mm, previous video versions have been a major disappointment - so hopefully this 16:9 anamorphic transfer will be a significant improvement. Extras include a Tati short film, Cours du Soir and a video introduction by Terry Jones.

Michael Brooke

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