In February, Criterion Chronicles Summer, Sings Narayama's Ballad, & More While "On the Waterfront"


This month the Criterion Collection has an eclectic mix heading to Blu-ray and DVD, reminding us once again just how fun their mission to preserve the best and most important works of classic and contemporary cinema can be. In one corner you have the Japanese classics The Ballad of Narayama, by Director Shôhei Imamura, and Kenji Mizoguchi's Sansho the Bailiff. In another you have the lauded, and 8 Academy Award-winning On the Waterfront by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando and Karl Malden. And finally, in the third corner we turn to France for two films separated by 50 years: Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch's Chronicle of a Summer, and 2011's The Kid with a Bike, a powerful drama by Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, with one of the best performances by a child actor in recent memory.

For details on all of these releases, keep reading.

onthewaterfront_bluOn the Waterfront

Marlon Brando (The Godfather) gives the performance of his career as the tough prizefighter-turned-longshoreman Terry Malloy in this masterpiece of urban poetry, a raggedly emotional tale of individual failure and institutional corruption. On the Waterfront charts Terry’s deepening moral crisis as he must choose whether to remain loyal to the mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (12 Angry Men’s Lee J. Cobb) and Johnny’s right-hand man, Terry’s brother, Charley (In the Heat of the Night’s Rod Steiger), as the authorities close in on them. Driven by the vivid, naturalistic direction of Elia Kazan (Gentlemen’s Agreement) and savory, streetwise dialogue by Budd Schulberg (A Face in the Crowd), On the Waterfront was an instant sensation, winning eight Oscars, including for best picture, director, actor, supporting actress (North by Northwest’s Eva Marie Saint), and screenplay.
1954 · 108 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · 1.66:1 aspect ratio

· New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the 
Blu-ray edition
· Alternate presentations of the feature restoration in two additional aspect ratios: 1.85:1 (widescreen) and 1.33:1 (full-screen)
· Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the 
Blu-ray edition
· Commentary featuring authors Richard Schickel and Jeff Young
· New conversation between filmmaker Martin Scorsese and critic Kent Jones
· Elia Kazan: Outsider (1982), an hour-long documentary
· New documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with scholar 
Leo Braudy, critic David Thomson, and others
· New interview with actress Eva Marie Saint
· Interview with director Elia Kazan from 2001
· Contender, a 2001 documentary on the film’s most famous scene
· New interview with longshoreman Thomas Hanley, an actor in the film
· New interview with author James T. Fisher (On the Irish Waterfront) about the real-life people and places behind the film
· Visual essay on Leonard Bernstein’s score
· Trailer
· PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Almereyda and reprints of Kazan’s 1952 ad in the New York Times defending his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, one of the 1948 New York Sun articles by Malcolm Johnson on which the film was based, and a 1953 Commonweal piece by screenwriter Budd Schulberg

SRP - $49.95

ballad_narayama_bluThe Ballad of Narayama

This haunting, kabuki-inflected version of a Japanese folk legend is set in a remote mountain village, where food is scarce and tradition dictates that citizens who have reached their seventieth year must be carried to the summit of Mount Narayama and left there to die. The sacrificial elder at the center of the tale is Orin (Ugetsu’s Kinuyo Tanaka), a dignified and dutiful woman who spends her dwindling days securing the happiness of her loyal widowed son with a respectable new wife. Filmed almost entirely on cunningly designed studio sets, in brilliant color and widescreen, The Ballad of Narayama is a stylish and vividly formal work from Japan’s cinematic golden age, directed by the dynamic Keisuke Kinoshita (Twenty-four Eyes).
1958 · 98 minutes · Color · Monaural · In Japanese with English subtitles · 2.35:1 aspect ratio
· New 4K digital master from the 2011 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
· Trailer and teaser
· New English subtitle translation
· PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Kemp

SRP - $29.95

kid_with_bike_bluThe Kid with a Bike

Twelve-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret), all coiled anger and furious motion, is living in a group home but refuses to believe he has been rejected by his single father (Summer Hours’ Jérémie Renier). He spends his days frantically trying to reach the man, over the phone or on his beloved bicycle. It is only the patience and compassion of Samantha (Hereafter’s Cécile de France), the stranger who agrees to care for him, that offers the boy the chance to move on. Spare and unsentimental but deeply imbued with a heart-rending tenderness, The Kid with a Bike is an arresting work from the great Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Rosetta), masters of the empathetic action film.

2011 · 87 minutes · Color · 5.1 Surround · In French with English subtitles · 1.85:1 aspect ratio
· New digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Alain Marcoen, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
· Conversation between film critic Kent Jones and directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
· Interviews with actors Cécile de France and Thomas Doret
· Return to Seraing, a half-hour documentary in which the Dardennes revisit five locations from the film
· Trailer
· New English subtitle translation
· PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoff Andrew

SRP - $39.95

chronicle_summer_bluChronicle of a Summer

Few films can claim to be as influential to the course of cinema history as Chronicle of a Summer. The fascinating result of a collaboration between filmmaker-anthropologist Jean Rouch (Moi, un noir) and sociologist Edgar Morin, this vanguard work of what Morin would termcinéma verité is a brilliantly conceived and realized sociopolitical diagnosis of the early sixties in France. By simply interviewing a group of Paris residents in the summer of 1960—beginning with the provocative and eternal question “Are you happy?” and expanding to political issues, including the ongoing Algerian War—Rouch and Morin reveal the hopes and dreams of a wide array of people, from artists to factory workers, from an Italian émigré to an African student. Chronicle of a Summer’s penetrative approach gives us a document of a time and place with extraordinary emotional depth.
1961 · 91 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In French with English subtitles · 1.37:1 aspect ratio
· New high-definition digital transfer of the Cineteca di Bologna restoration of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
· Un été + 50 (2011), a seventy-three-minute documentary featuring outtakes and new interviews with codirector Edgar Morin and some of the film’s subjects
· Archival interviews with codirector Jean Rouch and Marceline Loridan, one of the film’s subjects
· New interview with anthropology professor Faye Ginsburg, organizer of several Rouch retrospectives
· New and improved English subtitle translation
· PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Sam Di Iorio

SRP - $39.95

sansho_bailiff_bluSansho the Bailiff

When an idealistic governor disobeys the reigning feudal lord, he is cast into exile, his wife and children left to fend for themselves and eventually separated by vicious slave traders. Under the dazzling direction of Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu), this classic Japanese story became one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces, a monumental, empathetic expression of human resilience in the face of evil.

1954 · 124 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Japanese with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio
· Restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
· Audio commentary by Japanese-literature professor Jeffrey Angles
· Video interviews with critic Tadao Sato, assistant director Tokuzo Tanaka, and legendary actress Kyoko Kagawa, on the making of the film and its lasting importance
· PLUS: A book featuring an essay by film writer Mark Le Fanu and two versions of the story on which the film was based: Ogai Mori’s 1915 “Sansho Dayu” and a written form of an earlier oral variation

SRP - $39.95 {

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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