Hailed by critics around the world, this "exciting and impressive." (Variety) tale of love and obsession based on the writings of Rampo EdogawaJapan's answer to Edgar Allan Poeis "an astonishing, first-rate achievement on ... more »all fronts Not to be missed" (Boxoffice)! Although Rampo is the literary toast of Japan, the government has banned his latest manuscript: a dark tale about a woman who suffocates her husband inside a hope chest. And when a local man is murdered by his wife in the same manner, Rampo becomes obsessed with her and embarks on a quest to unlock the truth about the crime. But as he traverses the line between his fantasy and her reality, is Rampo really trying to save the woman of his dreams or simply destroying the fragile shell of his own sanity?« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 04/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Life is but an illusion, the dreams of night are real" wrote Hirai Taro (1894-1965), better known by his pseudonym Edogawa Rampo...a name inspired by his admiration for Edgar Allan Poe (edogaw-aram-po).
The film starts with a murder story (told in a wonderful animation sequence) of Rampo's, which is banned by the government for being "injurious to public morality"...he later reads in a newspaper of a real case identical to his story, tracks down the woman suspected of the murder, and she is the visual incarnation of how he imagined the protagonist of his story would be...and fact and fiction start to intermingle, with the fiction creating the fact. Rampo at times becomes the detective hero of his stories, in this beautiful and brilliant blend of realities.
This film was a huge success in Japan, but strangely, didn't get much attention in the U.S. There's a myriad of symbolism in the imagery, fabulous cinematography using diverse techniques, some eroticism, a lovely soundtrack, and a gorgeous cast. It's a film I've watched many times, discovering more of its mystery with each viewing."
For fellow aficionados
thejk | CA USA | 02/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I own the VHS-version of this movie as well and pre-ordered the DVD. First, there is no extra/new feature (except for a short theatrical trailer and the widescreen format) in this DVD, which is not a big deal in itself; however, the DVD version of this movie has a couple of significant problems.(1) There's a problem with the color transfer that practically ruins the role that colors play in the movie. The problem is especially pronounced in those scenes around the Marquis' mansion. Colors change so drastically and erratically from scene to scene that they no longer have any coherent meaning at all.(2) The DVD has a new translation. On one hand, this could be a good thing for those of us who don't speak Japanese. It's good to have an alternative translation so we can triangulate the original meaning using this and the VHS version's translation. On the other hand, the new translation is very poorly done. For instance, Rampo's monologue near the beginning of the movie was artfully done (as it had to be to anchor the entire movie) in the VHS version, but in the DVD version it is incoherent and incomprehensible. If you are crazy about this movie, you might still want to buy the DVD just for the alternative translation and the widescreen format. Don't throw away your VHS copy though. You won't want to make this DVD the copy you show to your friends, who won't be able to appreciate the movie as fully as you were able to with the VHS version."
On the line where reality and fiction converge...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 02/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rampo is a writer who has been censored by the government as his newest novel is deemed inappropriate and harmful for the moral welfare of the people. Rampo's assistant notices an article in a newspaper about an incident strikingly similar to the plot of the banned book, and he shares his knowledge with Rampo. Bewildered and curious Rampo seeks out the woman whose husband has died in the same way as in his novel, and he finds himself falling instantly in love with the woman. This leads to Rampo actively seeking out the woman and eventually expressing his affection for her. This emotional time gives Rampo strength and he begins to write again after his major setback with the government. Rampo begins to write about the woman that he has met, but soon he discovers that his writing turns into reality. In fear and curiosity Rampo continues to write with feverish obsession unknowing where it might lead him. Mystery of Rampo is a stunningly beautiful film as it depicts its surreal story through magical cinematography. The directors creates an atmosphere full of mystery and suspense that is similar to Edgar Allan Poe's short stories as it is based on a story by Edogawa Rampo who was an avid fan of Poe. In the beginning of the film the camera pans across a library and in the process gives recognition to Poe and Rampo, which lends a certain level of mystery to the story at hand. In the end, the audience is left with an excellent, yet bizarre cinematic episode that brings the viewers to a place where night and day converge."
One of the Greats in Asian Film
thejk | 01/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Mystery of Rampo is a film shot with the Asian flair for finding the grandest of visuals in simplicity. Containing a gripping story that is heartfelt, and a musical score that touches the soul, one cannot help but be pulled into the psychological struggles of the main characters. As the fiber of the work is completed through the final scenes, one is left with the same wonder found in gazing at a dew-soaked spiderweb, glistening in its own beauty. If you enjoyed the visual tecniques seen in "Ran", then this film is for you. Full of motion and gorgeous lighting, the sequences build tension in an ever-so-slight manner. I highly recommend this film!!!!"
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 05/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Author Hirai Taro took the pen name Edogawa Rampo as an homage to Edgar Allen Poe, who inspired Hirai to become Japan's first and greatest author of weird fiction. He is as well know in his native Japan as Poe is in the United States, and his stories continue to haunt the Japanese sub-conscious in the same way as "The Tell-Tale Heart" or "The Raven."
"Mystery of Rampo" is neither an adaptation of one of Rampo's works, nor a biographical piece. Instead it is a jazz riff, a lush dream-painting, taking us on a journey inside the mind of a writer, one who happens to be Japan's master of obsessive mystery and imagination. It attempts to capture the feel of a Rampo story, the obsession, the dark sexuality and fetishism, the madness. The story drifts back and forth between the real-life Rampo and the actor who stars in his adapted films, transformed into an Avatar of Rampo's fantasy life. Mixed in is a woman, perhaps real, perhaps not, who's life is a mirror of a story that Rampo is writing. A story banned by the rising militaristic government.
The film is heavily stylistic, relying on visuals and sound to tell the story and blend the lines between dream and reality. It is more David Lynch in tone than any Japanese film I have seen previously, It is beautifully shot, and the dance between the different stories is a pleasure. The story does assume an existing familiarity with Edogawa Rampo's character and life, something which might be lost on Western audiences.
The actors are all wonderful, especially Naoto Takenaka as Edogawa Rampo. Takenaka is more familiar as the crazy dancer of the original "Shall We Dance?" and Butterfly Joe in "Ping Pong." It is nice to see him stretch his range, and take his place as one of the top Japanese actors working today.
Unfortunately, a rare opportunity was missed in the DVD version of "The Mystery of Rampo." In Japan, producer Kazuyoshi Okuyama was unhappy with director Rintaro Mayuzumi's finished version, and reshot roughly 40% of the film himself. The two versions were released simultaneously, to test who had the better vision, Rintaro or Okuyama. Okuyama's version won, easily beating the original director's version at the box office. It is the winning version that appears on this DVD. What a treat it would have been to have both versions available, so we could have the same contest!"