CRITERION has always been associated with avid film students and film lovers(redundant?) as being the preeminent distributor of the highest quality dvd, (and previously, laserdisc)releases. Going to extremes to capture the best film/audio elements possible, along with the most impressive supplements(Danny DeVito actually voiced his love for laserdisc format, largely due to the Criterion release of "WEST SIDE STORY!"), CRITERION has been showcasing their magic with the blu-ray format. Their most recent release, "KAGEMUSHA," exemplifies the best of what CRITERION has to offer for the format.
Having been responsible for many great films, some of which inspired other classics(Star Wars, for example!), Kurosawa's "KAGEMUSHA" ranks up there with the best of his films. "Epic" in every sense of the word, "KAGEMUSHA" tells of the potential and frailty of men, when, a warlord, Shingen Takeda, is mortally wounded. Takeda, pleads to his loyal men, not to let his legacy become overtaken by enemies. The men, knowing news of Takeda's death would bring bloodshed and demise, choose to create a hoax, finding a double, "KAGEMUSHA," to fill in for Takeda. Unfortunately, "Kagemusha" is merely a thief, and his lack of higher values, leaves a lot for these men to worry about. Rivals send spies to determine whether Takeda is really alive, and they are fooled. Even the ruler's mistresses are fooled. However, as the ruse becomes more effective, "Kagemusha" becomes plagued by the realities of having to reconcile what's expected and his own limitations.
CRITERION has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. Transferred from a low-contrast print from the original negative, it's hard to contemplate the film possibly looking better than what's been achieved here. Even the minor imperfections found on laserdisc are gone here! There is some grain present, but purists should be happy that DNR hasn't been used here. Colors, so integral to the film's design, are saturated with incredible detail. Although a few of the darkest scenes lose some depth, the great majority of the film, offers spectacular detail and contrast.
CRITERION has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 mix from the original 4 channel tracks. Minor audio hiss found on the previous release, has been removed here, for a notably cleaner mix. Highs and Lows are well balanced, and the wonderful music is thoroughly complimented here.
Kurosawa's storyboards can be seen alongside the related scenes in full 1080p. Other supplements are in either 1080i. Interviews from 2004 with Lucas and Coppola offer insight as to how Kurosawa inspired them. A beautiful booklet, with an article from "SIGHT AND SOUND," and more is included. So are other mini-featurettes, all worth savoring by the legions of fans any home viewing of this blu-ray will inevitably create.