Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|James Clavell's Shogun|
Actors: Richard Chamberlain, Toshir˘ Mifune, Y˘ko Shimada, Frankie Sakai, Alan Badel
Director: Jerry London
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Television, Military & War
Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 09/23/2003 Starring: Richard Chamberlain Damien Thomas Run time: 600 minutes Rating: Nr Director: Jerry London
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An Epic Mini-Series: take a weekend and enjoy it again
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It has been two decades since James Clavell's novel first aired, but "Shogun" is still one of the finest mini-series yet produced and it still holds up. The stranger in a strange land story of an English navigator shipwrecked in fuedal Japan strikes such a strong chord because the audience is in the same predicament as the main character, confronted with an unknown and dangerous world that refuses to make sense. "Shogun" was filmed in Japan with remarkable fidelity to both the original story and local culture. As Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, Chamberlain is often called upon to do more with looks than with dialogue. As the "King of the Mini-Series," it is easy to forget what Chamberlain can do as an actor given the proper material (I wish his version of Christopher Fry's "The Lady's Not For Burning" was available on video tape). Actually, there is a sense in which Chamberlain's performance is arguable the weakest of the cast, but that speaks more to the strength of the supporting players. Certainly John Rhys-Davies steals every scene he is in as Vasco Rodrigues, Damien Thomas' Father Alvito personifies political machination, and Nobuo Kaneko as Lord Ishido has that glare down perfectly. Ultimately, it is the Japanese actors who carry "Shogun." From the legendary Toshirô Mifune as Lord Toranaga, to the novice actress Yôko Shimada as Mariko, to Frankie Sakai as Yabu and every one of the characters who make up Blackthorne's Japanese household, these actors provide the new word that confront's Chamberlain's character. The choice of producer Eric Bercovici to also adopt Clavell's novel was the ideal choice. Bercovici was not only familiar with the mini-series format, having done "Washington Behind Close Doors," but he was the writer on "Hell in the Pacific," a 1968 movie with Lee Marvin and Toshirô Mifune. During WWII the two men end up on a deserted island. What made the film unique was that it was done without subtitles; Marvin spoke English and Mifune spoke Japanese and the idea was to show it in both countries without subtitles. Okay, unfair advantage to the Japanese, but you have to appreciate the idea which "Shogun" certainly uses to great effect.Director Jerry London does an admirable job of presenting Japanese culture on its own terms, which is exactly what is right for the story. My understanding was that the Orson Welles narration was added at the, uh, request of the network who felt audiences would not be able to read between the lines. I think that for the most part "Shogun" would work without the excessive explanations, even if you have not read the novel, but we will never know. If you are looking for something to lose yourself in next weekend, you would not find too many things as intelligent and as fascinating as "Shogun." Just be sure you do the complete original mini-series and not the one cassette mini-version."
An epic and original mini-series!
Archie Mercer | Yorba Linda, CA | 05/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Very few mini-series' ever live up to the book from which it came. Shogun comes very close. Taking place during a period when all of Europe was competing for the riches of the world, the story starts off with the last ship of a lost fleet, down to a skeleton crew (in size as well as health) trying to find "the Japans". Pilot-Major John Blackthorn, played well by Richard Chamberlain, wakes up on shore in Japan after barely making to land. Used to being in control, he is swept up in all the politics and violence that this period of Japan could offer. In just the first day alone he sees a beheading, is forced to listen to one of his crew boiled to death, and must endure the shame of having a Samurai "relieve himself" on his back. He then becomes a pawn between two lords, the brutal Ishido, and the cunning Toranaga. As Blackthorn begins to understand the culture, he also begins to build his own power and worth, causing Toranaga to realize the value of the Englishman.Throughout this mini-series the photography is stunning, the action impressive, and the romance steamy. The acting here is also probably the best overall of any epic film. The film follows closely to the book with minor exceptions, and keeps the viewer riveted throughout the entire series. Also the continual battle between Blackthorn and the Jesuit Priest, Father Alvito, seems to have been written to match the feud between Ishido and Toranaga. Both feuds are intense and gut-wrenching, leading though to different types of endings. This series is a great story, told well, and captures the imagination quickly. I would recommend this to any viewer who likes an action-packed and entertaining adventure. Just be prepared: There are some scenes that are a little violent. This was necessary to get the feel for how violent this period was in Japan, however it can still be a wee bit disturbing. This is probably not for the pre-teen crowd."
Good But Incomplete
Rob | UK | 12/26/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I received the DVD set of Shogun for Christmas. A nice present since I've wanted to see it again ever since it first aired.
However, like a previous reviewer, I found it frustrating that almost 1/3 of the original mini-series is missing, and I think that the description of it on several sites as the "complete" mini-series is at best misleading and at worst in contravention of trading standards. Some of the most memorable parts of the original are entirely absent, including the demonstration of the the Musket Regiment in action, and Mariko's group's attempt to fight their way out of Osaka Castle before she threatens to commit seppuku, as well as more homely sequences such as Blackthorne teaching Mariko and Toranaga to dive head first from the galley.
A previous reviewer notes the lack of action sequences, and this is part of the reason...several have been cut out.
The same reviewer mentions that Blackthorne lapses into "thee" and "thou" speech inappropriately. Again, that's explained in a cut section: when Blackthorne and Mariko speak in "normal" speech they're supposed to be speaking Portuguese, but they both also speak Latin, and use that as a private tongue since some samurai who've had contact with Portuguese sailors speak their language, whereas only the priests speak Latin.
Overall, good, but I would have given it 5 stars if it really had been the complete mini-series. Two more disks would have covered it, so why wasn't it issued complete?"
I've Waited For This For Years!
Mark L. | Agoura Hills, CA USA | 10/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've waited for years for Shogun to be released on DVD, and I'm delighted with it. Yes, a booklet with information and chapter listings would have been nice, but that's probably not going to be a dealbreaker for many people.I'd like to know what some of the other reviewers think was deleted in this edition. I was very familiar with the miniseries, having seen it several times and having taped it at the time on an old Betamax, and I didn't notice anything missing in the DVD edition...except that accidental helicopter shadow! Nothing that I expected to see was gone. As an earlier customer pointed out, the original show ran for 12 hours on NBC because of all the commercials, network promos, opening titles and closing credits in every segment, etc. Take out all that padding, and 9 hours of actual program content sounds about right. If anybody can identify any actual deletions, I'd be interested in hearing what they are.I would have liked to have seen the brief nude scenes of Mariko in the bath included as much as the next guy. But they were only in the European version anyway. (Americans are considered by the world to be backward children in these matters.) They were never in the American version, so although they would have been a welcome bonus, we can't say they were "deleted."It was a real pleasure to start playing Shogun when the DVD package arrived, and Amazon.com had the best price for it that I could find, so that was an added benefit. Never had I seen it with the sharpness and clarity of the DVD. Maybe it took the advent of DVD to do justice to what is, for me, the greatest of all miniseries."