Heartbreakingly bad DVD transfer
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I remember seeing Rikyu in the theater, and it is a gem. The DVD transfer, however, is far and away the worst I have ever seen--so dark that frequently you cannot tell who is speaking, or even what characters are in the scene. So contrasty that all details in the shadows and highlights are washed out. The quality of the video distracts horribly from the story. Avoid this print. Eventually, they will have to produce a better one."
Teshigahara Triumphant Return
unhelpful | 07/29/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The low rating I gave was for the DVD, which is miserable. The aspect ratio is ignored and, sadly, no attempt is made to remaster the VHS print. The story is magnificently told by Teshigahara - a central episode in Japanese cultural history, when two forces sought to influence the future of Japanese aesthetics. Hideyoshi, who was more or less Japan's Lord Protector, disputed his master Rikyu in matters of taste. Rikyu advocated subtlety (the term "jimi"), while Hideyoshi, the flagrant extrovert, pushed for ostentatiousness ("hade"). Since Rikyu was a mere monk and would not back down from his views on matters of taste (making Hideyoshi appear ridiculous with his solid-gold tea-ceremony chambers), who eventually won the debate was another demonstration of Hideyoshi's relentless "hade." If you look at modern Japan, the two forces are still at odds. A splendid film, poorly served by this DVD. I have a VHS copy I purchased in Japan from Shochiku Video for about $30, letterboxed (with no subtitles). You need to know a great deal about Japanese history to follow everything, as an earlier viewer pointed out. Don't let it daunt you, though. An added attraction is the music of the Japanese modernist composer Toru Takemitsu, who wrote music for Woman in the Dunes as well."
Rikyu and Hideyoshi, or the end of the Tea Ceremony Master
unhelpful | 06/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sen-no-Rikyu is the most famous master of sado, and anyone interested in cha-no-yu or late 16th Century Japanese history will enjoy this film. However, be prepared to be hit with many historical one-liners meant to prompt your Japanese historical memory that the viewer is expected to know; maybe this is not a problem with Japanese viewers, but people without a background in the Nobunaga-Hideyoshi-Ieyasu unification of Japan period should have a good Japanese history at their side to understand the historical currents behind the dialog. These would include the conflicts among the above 3, the persecution of religions, the conquering of rival daimyo, and the invasion of Korea. Yamazaki, I thought, did a superb portrayal of Hideyoshi (Nakamura Hiyoshi) of village origins who rose to be "Kwampaku" (imperial representative) of all Japan. He is hardly recognizable to those who know him from Tampopo or Marusa no Onna. Technically, the DVD is little more than a VHS copy. It is full screen, with subtitles burned into the image. It also appears that somewhere along the processing line, more contrast was added during a copying process which makes the bright whites washed out and the darks almost black. This has the added disadvantage of occasionally causing the white subtitles to disappear into the background, and pausing for closer perusal sometimes didn't help. The translation is also weak at times, appearing to be done by a native speaker of Japanese and not English. Many nuances are lost as a result. For the quality of production shortcomings, I subtracted a star."
Worst ever-seen transfer to DVD
S. Nakao | USA | 10/24/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"It's a tragedy that this masterpiece of film art and narrative was totally destroyed by the poor transfer to the DVD by Slingshot. I should have read Amazon's previous reviews about this DVD, and then I whould have not bought it. I orderd this DVD version because I admired the film when it was originally shown in a theater. Don't buy this DVD, period."