Scandal (Shubun) (1950)

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Released 15-Jun-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Photo-Stills
Trailer-Eastern Eye and Anime Trailers
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1950
Running Time 104:39
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Akira Kurosawa
Studio
Distributor
Shochiku
Madman Entertainment
Starring Toshirô Mifune
Shirley Yamaguchi
Yôko Katsuragi
Noriko Sengoku
Eitarô Ozawa
Takashi Shimura
Shinichi Himori
Koji Mi
Ichirô Shimizu
Fumiko Okamura
Masao Shimizu
Tanie Kitabayashi
Sugisaku Aoyama
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Fumio Hayasaka


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    A famous young painter, Ichiro Aoye (Toshiro Mifune), is in the mountains painting. A young woman (Yoshiko Yamaguchi) who is staying at the same hotel is stranded, and he offers to drive her back to the hotel on his motorcycle. Once there he reveals that he recognises her as a well-known singer named Miyako Saijo, when he visits her in her room. Both have just taken baths and are in bathrobes. When they look out over the balcony, their photo is taken by a couple of reporters for a magazine called Amour. Without anything other than the photograph, this tabloid magazine which specialises in gossip about the famous prints a story concocted by the editor in which Ichiro and Miyako are having a torrid love affair. When he finds out, Ichiro is livid and punches the editor in the nose. This brings more publicity, so Ichiro decides to sue the magazine for damages. A seedy looking but sincere lawyer, Hiruta (Takashi Shimura), offers his services to Ichiro, but Ichiro does not realise that Hiruta has weaknesses.

    This film was conceived by Akira Kurosawa as a critique of the type of tabloid journalism that was rife in Japan during the years of occupation by the Americans (and afterwards). It is not one of his best films, with the story, especially in the second half, seeming forced and manipulative. This is the major problem with the film, as the performances are all first-rate and the direction is excellent. In the end it does not convince.

    Mifune at this stage was pushing thirty and just starting to make his mark as a star in Japanese films. He is very good, but his clean-living and moralistic artist just does not seem realistic. Takashi Shimura's Hiruta is better, but the anguish and self-loathing gets piled on a bit too much by the conclusion. Yoshiko Yamaguchi later became better known in the west as Shirley Yamaguchi, in a brief and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to break into American films. She later became a member of the Japanese parliament in the upper house. Many of Kurosawa's repertory group are in the film, notably Bokuzen Hidari as a drunk.

    While second-rate Kurosawa is better than most directors' best films, this one needs to be seen with lowered expectations. For better examples of Kurosawa films exploring the chaos of Japanese society in the years after the war, Drunken Angel, A Quiet Duel and Stray Dog are to be preferred.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The original aspect ratio was 1.37:1

    This is a disappointing transfer in many respects. The image is reasonably sharp, but not much more than a good VHS copy would look. Detail levels are acceptable but there is a slight blurriness, which might indicate an NTSC to PAL transfer, and there is some mild ghosting. Contrast is also acceptable but could have been a lot better. Shadow detail is not very good.

    Some occasional aliasing is visible, and there is also some posterisation.

    There are many film artefacts, from flecks to scratches. There are in fact a lot of scratches, tiny ones as well as larger ones. It seems that the print used for the transfer was not even wet-gated. The flim flickers quite a lot as well, and there are a couple of missing frames.

    There are optional subtitles in English, which are in clear white font and are easy to read. There are a couple of lines that are not translated, and there are some spelling errors. While the spelling seems to be American, one word is shown as both "honor" and "honour". "Aain't" appears several times, and "bear" is used instead of "hear".

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change well-placed at 52:53 during a fade to black between scenes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    This is quite a poor audio track. While dialogue is audible, there is an omnipresent hiss of the type associated with much older films. There is some crackle, the occasional slight drop-out and the recorded level is very low, requiring the volume to be turned up considerably. The sound is very thin.

    The music score by Fumio Hayasaka struggles to be heard through all of the problems. It sounds much thinner than the dialogue, almost as if it was being played on an old gramophone.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The main theme is heard under the static menu.

Gallery-Photo-Stills

    Some 29 publicity stills and a poster.

Trailer-Eastern Eye and Anime Trailers (25:39)

    Trailers for various Eastern Eye releases and some anime releases from Madman. The live action trailers are Throne of Blood, Seven Samurai, Red Beard, Bruce Lee: The Lost Interview, Godzilla, Godzilla vs Megaguiris and the Eastern Eye montage. The anime trailers are all for collections, being Studio Ghibli, Orphen 2 and Pretear.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only release of this film on DVD is in Region 3, from Mei Ah. Judging by the quality of their other releases, the Region 4 is probably better. However, a release in Region 2 from the Eureka Masters of Cinema series is scheduled for November 2005. If you want a copy of the film to keep, then it might be best to wait until the reviews are in.

Summary

    A notch or two below Kurosawa's best, this is still worth a look.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is poor.

    A few extras, though not much that is relevant to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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