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DVD Review: Late Spring, by Yasujirō Ozu (The Criterion Collection): Great Extras, Okay Transfer

The extras on this disc are fabulous. Tokyo-Ga, in particular, is fantastic. It’s fascinating to see what Chishu Ryu looked like in his old age, and a real eye-opener to learn that he was almost the same age as Setsuko Hara when they were making pictures together, considering he was most often playing her father. Criterion has done a wonderful job with the bonus features and package design, as per usual. I would have given it a 5 star rating, but for one issue. My biggest complaint, is with the print source quality. One of the reels has a white vertical emulsion scratch running through its entirety; the one with the famous shot of Setsuko Hara riding a bicycle with a male friend, passing a Coca-Cola sign at the side of the road. Only four years after the end of WWII, the Coke sign served as a reminder to the viewer that Japan was still occupied by the Americans, but was also feeling the encroaching influence from capitalistic western culture. Perhaps it was an insurmountable feat for Criterion to have digitally restored this sequence, but I must admit having to watch the vertical scratch throughout that entire sequence was quite disappointing and even infuriating, considering it’s one of my favourite moments in all of Ozu‘s films. Having said that, it’s an absolute essential for any serious film enthusiast to have this in his or her dvd collection, so I guess I’ll just have to grin and bear it. I’m one of those dummies who buys his favourites again and again, like Star Wars fans, so if they improve upon the transfer, I’ll probably buy it again. 😉

Addendum: I was feeling passionate when I originally wrote this review in 2006. The white emulsion streak is minimal, upon second, third, and fourth viewing. It’s fine. At the time, I was probably just sensing the fact that these artistic artifacts do not last forever. Kudos for Criterion for caring enough to release this film on dvd for a North American audience.