Many films have drawn from classic Japanese theatrical forms, but none with such shocking cinematic effect as director Masahiro Shinoda's Double Suicide. In this striking adaptation of a bunraku puppet play (featuring the ... more »music of famed composer Toru Takemitsu), a paper merchant sacrifices family, fortune, and ultimately life for his erotic obsession with a prostitute. Criterion is proud to present Double Suicide in a stunning digital transfer, with a new and improved English subtitle translation.« less
"With the barrage of bad summer films it pleased me to no end to view Criterion's issue of Masahiro Shinoda's Double Suicide. For many years I have been attracted to the well-known image of the two dead lovers lying side by side but had not actually seen the film. Prior to viewing the DVD I rented the early VHS release. The transfer was dull and murky. It's as if the video format was intent on hiding the beauty of this film. Criterion's DVD is like a shining light in a dark void. The disc is absolutely beautiful. Toichiro Narushima's stark photography is crisp and sharp. One can even see the faces behind the kurango's sheer black veils. The clear soundtrack does justice to Toru Takemitsu's haunting score. The English subtitles are enhanced and easy to read. The disc does not come with any extras (which explains my 4 star rating instead of 5). But it does come with an informative essay by Claire Johnston. She confirmed my thoughts about many of the films details and filled in what I did not know. It's rare that one sees a film as inventive and beautiful as Double Suicide. I urge all interested film lovers to seek out this DVD."
Post modern classical Japanese puppet theater
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 01/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Masahiro Shinoda's "Double Suicide" is one of several cinematic adaptations of famed Japanese playwright Chikamatsu's classic Bunraku puppet play "Shinju Ten no Amijima (Double Suicide at Amijima.)" Bunraku is one of three traditional Japanese theater styles, and includes black clothed puppeteers onstage manipulating their miniature charges. The story is the struggle between ninjo and giri, personal feelings and social duty. This struggle is the dominant theme of Japanese theater, bringing to life the oft-quoted expression "the nail that sticks up must be hammered down." To act from personal emotions is devastating. Shinoda combines classical theater with stunning modern film techniques and cinematography. The nod to the origin of the story is found in the black clad puppeteers who hover in the background. It is a most excellent film in every way. It is all the more exceptional for its essential "japaneseness," far more so than Kurosawa's westernized films. The artificialness of Japanese theater is also captured well, as opposed to the attempted naturalness of western theater.I do agree that this Criterion Collection DVD is beautiful, but sadly lacking for extras. In many other films the lack of extras would not be so important, but "Double Suicide" is a film that craves exploration. A filmed sample of the original Bunraku production, for example. Some background on
Chikamatsu. Those not familiar with Bunraku might not understand the dark, background puppeteers or be confused by the artful melodrama.Still, even with such a barebones production, and excellent film and and an excellent DVD."
Scott Richardson | Chicago, IL USA | 04/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A number of reviewers of Criterion discs have commented that it's too bad that some of their discs have lots of extras while some (such as Double Suicide) have none.My response is to judge the film on its own merits. If it weren't for Criterion, I probably never would have heard of this film, and I certainly never would have seen such a luminous transfer. The film is beautiful and strange, and warrants multiple viewings.Critics of the lack of extras should also note that the more "bare-bones" Criterion discs are priced less than the fully-packed ones.I think Criterion did a really great job with this wonderful film."
MEN IN BLACK
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 03/19/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Come on, raiders of unusual images, Masahiro Shinoda's DOUBLE SUICIDE is a movie for you. Shot in black and white in 1969, this Criterion release will satisfy your delicate taste deceived by the clichés Hollywood serves you by the dozen each week of the year. In DOUBLE SUICIDE, one and only actress plays the two main feminine characters and, believe me or not, I didn't notice it until the end of the movie. Adapted from a 1720 ( ! ) japanese doll drama, DOUBLE SUICIDE relates the tragic love story of a courtesan and a paper merchant. The establishment, symbolized in the movie by the family and the moral code of the bourgeoisie, will lead the two lovers to take a dramatic decision. The story is melodramatic but Masahiro Shinoda's cinematography transforms this simple story into a universal drama by adding a prologue and an epilogue that I let you discover by yourselves. Another interesting idea from the director is to imagine that the men who traditionally handle the puppets would appear on the screen. Invisible for the characters, these men dressed in black will cross the path of the heroes and become for us a symbol of the Fate that doesn't leave the slightest chance to the unfortunate lovers. I don't recommend this movie to those of you who are not familiar with japanese movies but I'm sure that the curious ones will appreciate DOUBLE SUICIDE and its stunning cinematography. Superb copy with only a Claire Johnston essay as bonus feature. A DVD zone rising sun."
Paul Barrett | Lititz, PA | 10/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having no familiarity with classic Japanese theatrical forms, I bought this DVD to get a pleasant means of education. I could always sell it back on eBay, afterall, and get half my money back. It turned out to be, for me, much more than another foreign movie. Viewing this film was like being at a live performance with great actors - I was hypnotised, in awe of the raw emotions that spilled out(all while reading the English subtitles!). I will never part with this film, even if I sold the DVD-it will always be with me!"