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July 14, 2009

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DVD of the Week – “Silent Ozu – Three Family Comedies” Box Set

by HELEN GEIB

Today’s DVD pick is a box set of three silent films by renowned Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. The set, titled “Silent Ozu – Three Family Comedies,” was released by Criterion under its Eclipse label and includes Tokyo Chorus (1931), I Was Born, But… (1932), and Passing Fancy (1933).

Describing the films as comedies is not exactly wrong, but it can give the wrong impression: the stories are a mix of light comedy and low-key domestic drama. Released towards the end of Japan’s silent era, the films were great popular successes. This DVD release provides American admirers a welcome, long-overdue opportunity to see them outside the rare repertory theater screening.

The Eclipse label is Criterion’s budget arm. That means the set costs less than a comparable Criterion Collection release, but it has no special features (although there is a short introductory essay on the films in Criterion’s online journal Current). Each film has a new score by Donald Sosin and the original Japanese title cards are subtitled in English

Original Commentary Track review of I Was Born, But… by Helen Geib.

New releases this week: 12, The Edge of Love, Grey Gardens, The Haunting in Connecticut


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nir Shalev
    Jul 14 2009

    Good ol’ Ozu. Never imitated, always there to inspire and entertain us.
    I love these three films. There is something of a natural aspect to them, especially “I was born, but…”.

  2. Helen
    Jul 17 2009

    I was lucky enough to see I Was Born, But… and Tokyo Chorus in two of those rare repertory screenings and enjoyed them very much, especially I Was Born, But…. Here’s hoping the set sells well enough to prompt a second edition! It would be wonderful to see the rest of his silent films come to DVD as well. I’d especially like to see Days of Youth again.

  3. Nir Shalev
    Jul 17 2009

    I know, Ozu’s just amazing.

    It’s strange how everyone thinks that ‘Tokyo Story” is his best film but I think “Floating Weeds (remake, 1959)” and “Late Spring” are the best.
    I will deliver a “Floating Weeds” review at one point. 0_<

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