432-433 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters & Patriotism

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Cronenfly
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#76 Post by Cronenfly » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:57 pm

If you listen to the narration in the two Youtube videos I linked above (from the VHS and, presumably, the same as the theatrical release), the narrator (definitely Scheider) sounds very much so like Scheider at the time the movie was first released. This is why I find it hard to believe that it's Scheider on the re-recorded English Warner DVD v/o; I know it isn't Schrader (another man with a very distinctive voice), but I can't reconcile in my mind that the re-recording is Scheider as well. The VHS/theatrical v/o is not nearly as flat in delivery as the Warner DVD v/o, and the latter sounds little like Scheider to my ears. Would it really be so far outside of the realm of possibility that Scheider got replaced by some generic v/o artist for the Warner DVD?

EDIT: It is indeed outside of the realm of possibility; kinjitsu assures me that it's Scheider's voice all the way on the Warner DVDs English narration track.

I cleared the matter of the Warner DVDs English voiceover with kinjitsu; he assures me that it's Scheider on the Warner DVD, and I trust his judgment on the matter. He compared the above VHS Youtube clips with the Warner DVD, and found them to both be Scheider, just from different recording sessions.

So, it would appear that there are two different Scheider voiceovers for the movie, one done for theatrical/VHS release, and one for the Warner DVD. It will be interesting to see which ends up on the Criterion DVD (I'd bet on the latter, now that I know for sure it's Scheider, but you never know).

My apologies for the confusion; I'd just believed that the Warner DVDs English narration was not Scheider for so long that I could not fathom that it was indeed him, just not sounding as I'm used to hearing him. My apologies to kinjitsu in particular, and anyone else for whom the matter has created any confusion.

Mandeville

Digital Alteration of Mishima

#77 Post by Mandeville » Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:17 am

I saw Mishima at Ebertfest this evening. After the film was over Mr. Schrader and Ms. Eiko Ishioka spoke with the audience. Mr. Schrader said that he had never been happy with the final part of the Runaway Horses sequence when the kendo student commits suicide on a real cliff because it does not match the artificial style of the other sets used in the novel sequences. Therefore he has digitally altered the sequence for the Criterion DVD to make it look more like a stage set. I find it somewhat disturbing that Criterion is releasing digitally altered version of a film without letting customers know or without giving viewers the option to seeing the film with the original sequence intact.

Does anyone have any further information about this?

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#78 Post by kinjitsu » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:41 pm

Mandeville wrote:I find it somewhat disturbing that Criterion is releasing digitally altered version of a film without letting customers know or without giving viewers the option to seeing the film with the original sequence intact.
It's Schrader's film, so I imagine he can do as he pleases...

David Bordwell discusses Mishima.
David Bordwell wrote:Schrader’s film enacts the blending of art and life in its very imagery. At the climax, in the biographical strand Mishima climbs into a jet and the black-and-white imagery gains radiant color as he stares into the sun. The shift brings the biography up to 1970, and so provides a transition to the color footage of the writer’s last day, but it also recalls the opening credits, with the sun rising, and the closing shot of the cadet Isao about to slash himself.

Schrader regrets the transition showing Isao running to the beach, because the imagery shifts from Ishioka’s stylized world to something more realistic (albeit with glowing amber rocks). So for the upcoming Criterion DVD release he has fiddled with the final shots so that the sun and sky look far more abstract. Evidently he wants the world of art and the world of life to remain stubbornly apart—denying to his film what his protagonist yearned for.
Last edited by kinjitsu on Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#79 Post by Cronenfly » Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:14 pm

As well, unlike, say, Storaro's Univision insanity, at least Schrader has provided a reasonable (to my mind) justification for the alteration, and it will cover a relatively small portion of the film. The digital alteration could still stick out like a sore thumb, of course, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see, but I have faith in Schrader's judgement.

As a sidebar (albeit one which is still relevant to the matter at hand), does anyone know of a digital alteration like the one Schrader proposes working out well on a pre-digital film? All that's coming to my mind right now is the terrible speedup/distortion added for some scenes of the Crusing DVD and the controversial Star Wars "touch-ups".

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#80 Post by miless » Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:23 pm

Cronenfly wrote:As a sidebar (albeit one which is still relevant to the matter at hand), does anyone know of a digital alteration like the one Schrader proposes working out well on a pre-digital film? All that's coming to my mind right now is the terrible speedup/distortion added for some scenes of the Crusing DVD and the controversial Star Wars "touch-ups".
there's always the walkie talkie's in ET...
and didn't Spielberg also redo the effects in Close Encounters recently, too?

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#81 Post by arsonfilms » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:33 pm

I heard Schrader speak recently after a screening of The Comfort of Strangers, and he mentioned that he had spent a year working on the Mishima disc with Criterion. Most of the discussion that evening was limited to The Comfort of Strangers, but my impression from that evening was that this was no casual, fly by night relationship. Schrader also seemed reasonable and down to earth enough that I have every confidence that he is simply correcting a mistake that slipped by and not falling back on revisionism like Storaro, Lucas and Spielberg.

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#82 Post by Cronenfly » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:44 pm

I didn't mean to toss Schrader in with that lot, and his intention does seem noble or at least reasonable, but I'm still not 100% sure that the digital alterations will work and be seamless. However, there's no way of knowing that until the disk comes out/the reviews start pouring in, so I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.

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#83 Post by arsonfilms » Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:10 pm

I'm sorry Cronenfly, I was actually just trying to reinforce your point, not disagree with it. It sounded to me as though an awful lot of work was done on the disc, so the only thing that really differentiates your statements from mine is that I'm a little less worried about the changes based on my recent sense of Schrader on a personal level.

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#84 Post by Cronenfly » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:27 pm

arsonfilms wrote:I'm sorry Cronenfly, I was actually just trying to reinforce your point, not disagree with it. It sounded to me as though an awful lot of work was done on the disc, so the only thing that really differentiates your statements from mine is that I'm a little less worried about the changes based on my recent sense of Schrader on a personal level.
I can see where you're coming from in your optimism; the only reason I have any doubt is that (to my eye) even the best digital effects these days still often show their seams. Given that this alteration seems to be only to the setting of the cliff suicide (and given that it's being done to make the setting less realistic/more stage-like, so seamlessness is much less of an issue) makes me less worried, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

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#85 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sat May 03, 2008 8:06 pm


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#86 Post by domino harvey » Sat May 03, 2008 8:29 pm

Remember when Criterion was considered a reference-level DVD label? Those were the days.

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#87 Post by colinr0380 » Sat May 03, 2008 9:06 pm

I'm not sure just how adding a scene and a 5.1 remix affects Criterion's reputation. They've released 5.1 soundtracks before and often include the original version for comparison (wasn't the only release to not include the original option the Picnic At Hanging Rock disc?).

Tinkering with the colours is perhaps a little more questionable but if they find room to put the earlier version of the scene somewhere in the extra features for comparison purposes that would placate me.

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#88 Post by Cronenfly » Sat May 03, 2008 9:28 pm

The scene Schrader added is likely the Chishu Ryu deleted scene included on the Warner DVD. It's from The Temple of the Golden Pavilion section, and is very brief. Its addition shouldn't disrupt the flow of the film too much, if at all.

I'm interested to know exactly what the "sky replacement" will constitute; hearing the change phrased like that makes it seem like it could be a digital tinkering or (and I don't know if this is possible or not) a matting in of a more theatrical sky. Could be something else, too, and I'm sure someone with more technical knowledge than myself could take a more well-informed stab at what exactly the change might be.

I can think of at least two other examples of Criterions not including the original soundtracks (Sweetie and An Angel at my Table); while this doesn't bother me personally a great deal, it would still be a nice gesture on Criterion's part to include the original 2.0 stereo. As of now, the 5.1 isn't even listed on the Criterion site, so there's reason to be optimistic for the inclusion of both, in my opinion.

And, from the Criterion site, this "new" version is now being called the director's cut:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the director's cut, supervised and approved by director Paul Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey

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#89 Post by Argonaut69 » Thu May 29, 2008 4:11 pm

The changes Schrader is making sound relatively minor and in keeping with what he originally intended so I doubt I will have an issue with it. What I do find troublesome is when filmmakers treat a given film as a sort of live action video game where things can be cut and pasted, CGI effects added, backgrounds digitally inserted as Lucas did with the re-issue of the first three Star Wars films. The changes almost inevitably do not quite feel organic and stick out from the rest.

The finale of Runaway Horses (the final segment of Mishima) has never struck me as especially problematic but I can see Schrader's point about making it more stylized to fit in with the rest of the dramatic re-enactments. I always saw the mostly naturalistic final scene as it was originally presented as reflecting the fantasy color of the fictional segments finally merging into reality but it's probably more clear and consistent to present it how it will be on the Criterion disc.

I agree with Schrader that Mishima is his best film as a director and I also happen to think it's the best (and most emotional) Philip Glass score as well.

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#90 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Thu May 29, 2008 4:29 pm

Argonaut69 wrote: I always saw the mostly naturalistic final scene as it was originally presented as reflecting the fantasy color of the fictional segments finally merging into reality but it's probably more clear and consistent to present it how it will be on the Criterion disc.
I feel the same way about that scene and that's why I like it. I'll have to wait for the DVD and see how different it is.

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#91 Post by kaujot » Thu May 29, 2008 10:18 pm

But did Mishima see reality coming into its own by then?

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#92 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:01 pm

souvenir wrote:
Cronenfly wrote:The CC store now has both of these listed as coming July 1st. And interestingly DVD Planet has Mishima listed as temporarily out of stock...
It also could screw up potential 20% off sales, unless DVD Planet mistakenly lists it as already out and allows the discount to apply.
This is going on as we speak, it's still listed (oddly) as April 8th, and out of stock. So the discount applies when you order.

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#93 Post by cdnchris » Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:54 pm

While it has the Janus logo on the back (and opens with it), Mishima states it was licensed from American Zoetrope, but I doubt that's a surprise (but figured I'd share.) The artwork actually looks much better when you have it in your hands as well. It's embossed and actually looks pretty sharp (in my opinion anyways.) As for what I've seen from the picture and sound so far I think some people are going to be very happy.

As well, unless I'm missing something, there's no 5.1 track on here. It's 2.0 Dolby Surround. Still sounds great.

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#94 Post by TheGodfather » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:36 pm

cdnchris wrote:The artwork actually looks much better when you have it in your hands as well. It's embossed and actually looks pretty sharp (in my opinion anyways.)
hmmmm.... embossed. That`s something new. Sounds interesting.

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#95 Post by Cronenfly » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:55 pm

cdnchris wrote:While it has the Janus logo on the back (and opens with it), Mishima states it was licensed from American Zoetrope, but I doubt that's a surprise (but figured I'd share.) The artwork actually looks much better when you have it in your hands as well. It's embossed and actually looks pretty sharp (in my opinion anyways.) As for what I've seen from the picture and sound so far I think some people are going to be very happy.

As well, unless I'm missing something, there's no 5.1 track on here. It's 2.0 Dolby Surround. Still sounds great.
If you'd be so kind, Chris, could you report back when you get a minute on how the digital manipulation of the cliff climax is handled (if it indeed appears to you to be altered at all)? I'd ask too about whether it's just the Chishu Ryu scene that has been added to the film and whether the English voiceover narration is the VHS/original cinema version or the same as the Warner DVDs (I really don't want to reopen that can of worms, but I'm still curious as to which version is included on the Criterion disc) but I don't want to ask too much and I don't know how much experience you've had with the film outside of the Criterion disc. However, if you could provide answers to those questions too, I'd appreciate it very much.

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#96 Post by cdnchris » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:34 pm

TheGodfather wrote:
cdnchris wrote:The artwork actually looks much better when you have it in your hands as well. It's embossed and actually looks pretty sharp (in my opinion anyways.)
hmmmm.... embossed. That`s something new. Sounds interesting.
I'm an idiot, I completely used the wrong word. What I meant is it has a metallic sheen over it. I forget the term for this and I even used to work at a printing place.
If you'd be so kind, Chris, could you report back when you get a minute on how the digital manipulation of the cliff climax is handled (if it indeed appears to you to be altered at all)? I'd ask too about whether it's just the Chishu Ryu scene that has been added to the film and whether the English voiceover narration is the VHS/original cinema version or the same as the Warner DVDs (I really don't want to reopen that can of worms, but I'm still curious as to which version is included on the Criterion disc) but I don't want to ask too much and I don't know how much experience you've had with the film outside of the Criterion disc. However, if you could provide answers to those questions too, I'd appreciate it very much.
I don't want to commit to anything because I want to go over it again (I pretty much just got through the film last night and want to go over everything else today) but I've only seen the film on VHS many, many years ago. I wasn't able to get my hands on the Warner DVD, unfortunately, my last resort being NetFlix and they had it on the Very Long Wait list. One sequence that stood out, though, was Mizoguchi visiting an old priest, who is played by Ryu. So I'm assuming that's the deleted scene. As for alterations to the climax, I can't say. I'm going to go over it again with the commentary (maybe it'll point something out,) but nothing stood out to me.

The disc also contains 3 audio tracks. It has the Japanese version, the Roy Scheider track (which, from memory, sounds the same as the VHS version I originally saw) and another track that was supposed to be a test track for Scheider (this one I haven't gotten around to yet.) The Japanese track sounds absolutely incredible, but the same treatment wasn't given to the Scheider track. His voice is loud, but everything else comes off weaker. Just comparing the score on both tracks is like comparing night and day.

I hope that helps for now.

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#97 Post by miless » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:36 pm

TheGodfather wrote:embossed. That`s something new. Sounds interesting.
the Teshigahara box is embossed.

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#98 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:44 pm

It's foil-stamped, look in the Cover Art thread, there's pics of the whole package there

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#99 Post by Cronenfly » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:45 pm

cdnchris wrote:I don't want to commit to anything because I want to go over it again (I pretty much just got through the film last night and want to go over everything else today) but I've only seen the film on VHS many, many years ago. I wasn't able to get my hands on the Warner DVD, unfortunately, my last resort being NetFlix and they had it on the Very Long Wait list. One sequence that stood out, though, was Mizoguchi visiting an old priest, who is played by Ryu. So I'm assuming that's the deleted scene. As for alterations to the climax, I can't say. I'm going to go over it again with the commentary (maybe it'll point something out,) but nothing stood out to me.

The disc also contains 3 audio tracks. It has the Japanese version, the Roy Scheider track (which, from memory, sounds the same as the VHS version I originally saw) and another track that was supposed to be a test track for Scheider (this one I haven't gotten around to yet.) The Japanese track sounds absolutely incredible, but the same treatment wasn't given to the Scheider track. His voice is loud, but everything else comes off weaker. Just comparing the score on both tracks is like comparing night and day.

I hope that helps for now.
That helps a lot! Thanks very much.

Given the lack of the promised 5.1 bump, it could be that Schrader decided to leave the cliff sequence alone (and this being called the "director's cut" could just be due to the inclusion of the brief Ryu scene).

I'm very interested in the inclusion of the two Scheider tracks; this could go a long way towards explaining the confusion over the multiple versions of the English V/O. Too bad the English track isn't mastered better, but given that the Ogata version is Schrader's preferred, it isn't so surprising (though that doesn't make it any less disappointing to those who prefer the English V/O).

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#100 Post by cdnchris » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:15 pm

domino harvey wrote:It's foil-stamped, look in the Cover Art thread, there's pics of the whole package there
Yeah, that's it. Simple enough.
I'm very interested in the inclusion of the two Scheider tracks; this could go a long way towards explaining the confusion over the multiple versions of the English V/O. Too bad the English track isn't mastered better, but given that the Ogata version is Schrader's preferred, it isn't so surprising (though that doesn't make it any less disappointing to those who prefer the English V/O).
The test track was actually not recorded by Scheider, but was a test track that was used during editing that was then used as a guide for Scheider.

And as for the climax, don't take my word for it as my memory isn't good as to how it looked originally. I was hoping to get a look at the Warner DVD just for this very fact but wasn't able to and am disappointed by that. All it could mean is it was altered but I didn't notice. In the commentary, though (which was recorded in 2006) he briefly says something like "this is an image I'm hoping to do some sky replacement on." (to a chuckle from Alan Poul) So he could have done it.

But I'll ask this, then: Was the sky behind the character sort of a dark red? This is something I don't recall.

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