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December 8, 2009

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DVD of the Week – AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa

by HELEN GEIB

“AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa” is a new box set from Criterion timed to coincide with the centenary of Kurosawa’s birth. The box set includes all but five* of Kurosawa’s films. Four of the films in the set- Kurosawa’s first four films as director- are being released on DVD for the first time.

The full listing:
Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
The Most Beautiful (1944)
Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (1945)
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)
No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)
One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
Drunken Angel (1945)
Stray Dog (1949)
Scandal (1950)
Rashomon (1950)
The Idiot (1951)
Ikiru (1952)
Seven Samurai (1954)
I Live in Fear (1955)
Throne of Blood (1957)
The Lower Depths (1957)
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Yojimbo (1961)
Sanjuro (1962)
High and Low (1963)
Red Beard (1965)
Dodes’ka-Den (1970)
Kagemusha (1980)
Madadayo (1993)

(The still accompanying this post is from Sanshiro Sugata.)

The box set comes with a book featuring an introduction and notes on each film by Stephen Prince plus a “remembrance” by Donald Richie. Check out the criterion.com page for more details.

Longtime collectors of Kurosawa on DVD likely own most of these films already and so will probably want to pass up this set and wait for a separate release of the four new films. For everyone else, this box set is a great bargain (but be sure to get it from one of the several retailers selling it steeply discounted from the list price) and would be a worthy addition to any cinephile’s DVD collection.

*The five Kurosawa films not included in the set are controlled by other rights-holder and are available individually on DVD. They are The Quiet Duel, Dersu Uzala, Ran, Dreams, and Rhapsody in August.

Other new releases this week: The Cove, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Julie and Julia, Public Enemies


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aaron
    Dec 8 2009

    My goodness gracious! I need this!

  2. miriam
    Dec 8 2009

    Aaron, check out The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurowawa and Toshiro Mifune by Stuart Gabraith IV. It’s a wonderfully readable account of their careers and the making of the films. I’m working my way through it slowly and trying to watch each film in chronological order. The release of several of the early films will throw me out of order now, but that’s a problem I’m delighted to have.

  3. Nir Shalev
    Dec 8 2009

    I own half of these films through Criterion and I want the Sugata Sanshiro film but they don’t exist outside of this gigantic boxset.

    Also Helen, Johnny To’s “Throw Down” was dedicated to Akira Kurosawa. >_0

  4. Dec 8 2009

    DVD of the Year in my opinion. Wish I had the cash to buy it.

  5. Helen
    Dec 9 2009

    @Nir: Yeah, it was inspired by Sanshiro Sugata. :-) What a great double feature that would make!

  6. Nir Shalev
    Dec 9 2009

    I can only hope that Criterion will release the lesser known Kurosawa films in the “Art House Cinema” collection, like “Sanshiro Sugata 1+2”, “The Idiot”, and “I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being”.

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