The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru) (Directors Suite) (1960)
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Prof. Ross Gibson
|Year Of Production||1960|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (64:44)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Akira Kurosawa|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.15:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Something smells fishy at the Dairyu Construction Corporation, and it's definitely not their hotpot. Three of their crooked directors have emerged squeaky clean from a recent indictment over dodgy dealings, and the savvy media suspect corruption, knowing they're still at it unashamedly. In addition to this, their corporate staff are dropping like flies, literally, from the seventh floor of their corporate HQ. A modern equivalent to hara-kiri, it would seem. Do multiple suicides within a company point directly to corruption? The media are onto every development in a flash, milking the story for all it's worth.
The pressure is on, and things really start to unravel in the board room when Koichi Nishi (Toshiro Mifune) appears on the scene. Eyebrows are firmly raised when he simultaneously lands the job of secretary to the big cheese and marries the boss' semi-disabled daughter to boot. He's a shifty character and seems to often appear from nowhere, constantly toying with the corporate goings-on in an indirect manner. What are this guy's motives? Surely he doesn't love the boss' daughter - he must be attracted to her considerable dowry. Perhaps he out to clean up the rife corruption, or does he have more sinister plans?
Kurosawa has crafted a stylish revenge thriller, bubbling with seething contempt for the hypocrisy of corporate post-war Japan. Mifune is an outstanding screen presence as always, while his supporting cast do an equally magnificent job. This is one of Kurosawa's most distinctive efforts, full to the brim with his trademark vision and wit. I recommend this film highly.
Unfortunately, this is a case where I believe the cover slick and trailer give away far too much plot detail. Be sure to exercise caution and watch the film before you read the slick or watch the extras.
The film was shot in the Tohoscope (non-anamorphic) 35mm format, with a wide aspect of 2.35:1. This 16x9 enhanced DVD transfer has a measured aspect of roughly 2.15:1, so it is clear some cropping has been performed. After careful comparison of screen captures from other regions, it would appear our transfer is most similar to the Region 1 (Criterion) in terms of image framing.
This video transfer is an NTSC conversion and bears a runtime identical to the Region 1 Criterion release of last year. Doubled, overlapping video frames are evident and these make movement on screen staggered and ghost-like in some scenes.
The image is soft, but the level of visible detail is fair. For a film pushing 50 years of age, there aren't too many source issues to be concerned about. Telecine wobble is persistent to varying degrees, but film artefacts never go beyond small specs of dust and dirt.
This is a black and white production, and contrast quality in the transfer varies somewhat. Some scenes bloom with brightness to the point where detail in the image is lost, while others are overly dark.
MPEG compression artefacting appears to be well controlled. I didn't notice any dire compression issues such as blocking or grain.
An English subtitle stream is activated by default, and comprised of a pale white font with a thin black outline. I noted some Americanisms in the text, but the translation is generally easy to follow.
This disc is dual layered, with a break placed during the feature at 64:44. The layer transition was seamless on my equipment.
The default soundtrack is the film's original Japanese mono audio, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). The second soundtrack option is an excellent Audio Commentary, that is certainly worth your time.
The dialogue is clear and easy to distinguish throughout. Audio sync is good.
The overall quality of the audio is good considering the age of the source. Mild distortion pops up now and then, most often during loud vocal delivery or musical passages. At 4:00 the pitch wavers a little during Here Comes The Bride.
The score by Masaru Satô is a blend of traditional Japanese instrumentation and some western influences. There are some very clever uses of music in this film, sometimes as a direct counterpoint to the action on screen.
There is obviously no subwoofer or surround activity to report.
|Surround Channel Use|
Ross is a Professor of Media Arts at the University of Technology in Sydney. I don't ordinarily go for academic commentaries, but this one is outstanding. Ross is a relaxed, confident speaker, who doesn't bark at the viewer like he's reading excerpts from his thesis. He avoids using any perplexing jargon, in fact he sounds a bit embarrassed and reigns himself in if he feels he is going down that verbal path. I imagine he'd be the kind of lecturer I would enjoy listening to.
The commentary touches on many aspects of the production, but the main focus is on Kurosawa's signature style, his composition of scenes and his use of the wide frame. Ross raises many ideas and perceptions that I had not considered when viewing the film the first time around, and I came out of his commentary with a much broader appreciation of not only this film, but Kurosawa's other work. A fantastic extra feature for newcomers and lovers of Japanese cinema alike.
A series of recognisable stills taken from the film, with pans and zooms for effect. This feature is 16x9 enhanced.
The original Japanese trailer, outlining the more dramatic aspects of the story. This trailer is not 16x9 enhanced.
Preceded by anti-piracy propaganda, trailers are included for Directors Suite titles An Autumn Afternoon, Tokyo Story, Ikiru and Five Graves to Cairo.
The reverse side of the cover slick contains some text; a biography and filmography of our Director.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
BFI in Region 2 (UK) also have a PAL release, with a runtime of 144:35. This transfer has been panned in online reviews that point to excessive cropping of the image.
As I mentioned above, I spent some time comparing our transfer with screen shots from the above regions. Our transfer does not contain the cropping that is present in the Region 2 PAL transfer, in fact the framing of our image looks very similar, if not identical to the Criterion transfer.
The transfer is rough around the edges.
The extras are worth your time.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.|