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The Makioka Sisters: The Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Keiko Kishi, Yoshiko Sakuma, Sayuri Yoshinaga, Yûko Kotegawa, Jûzô Itami
  • Directors: Kon Ichikawa
  • Writers: Kon Ichikawa, Jun'ichirô Tanizaki, Shin'ya Hidaka
  • Producers: Kon Ichikawa, Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Format: Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: June 14 2011
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • ASIN: B004S8021M
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #64,153 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

This lyrical adaptation of the beloved Japanese novel by Junichiro Tanizaki was a late-career triumph for world-class director Kon Ichikawa (The Burmese Harp, Fires on the Plain). Revolving around the changing of the seasons, The Makioka Sisters (Sasame-yuki) follows the lives of four sisters who have taken on their family’s kimono manufacturing business, over the course of a number of years leading up to the Pacific War. The two oldest have been married for some time, but according to tradition, the rebellious youngest sister cannot wed until the third, conservative and terribly shy, finds a husband. This graceful study of a family at a turning point in history is a poignant evocation of changing times and fading customs, shot in rich, vivid colors.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • Original theatrical trailer • New and improved English subtitle translation • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Audie Bock

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 33 reviews
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
The finest film from Japan I've ever seen June 14 2011
By D. Lee - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
I first saw this movie when it came to Seattle in 1985 or 1986. I had been interested in Japan for a few years and when I saw this film in the theater for the first time I was in high school. The film was so good I went back to the theater two weeks later and saw it again. It takes place before Japan entered WWII, but was already sending soldiers to China and South Korea. The story revolves around four sisters, the two eldest are married and they are taking care of the two younger sisters. They are trying to find a husband for the next youngest, and the youngest has a boyfriend who isn't liked because she eloped with him when she was just 16, and was promptly found by the police and returned home. The cinematography in this film is superb, so many shots are simply breathtaking and bring tears to my eyes. Of course the beauty of the homes and costumes as well. It is a somewhat serious film, but has its lighter moments. The film draws us into a world we may never be able to witness anywhere else. I felt I was indeed in 1930s Japan and in the very rooms the film takes place in. It does help to be somewhat familiar with Japanese culture or language to enjoy this film. My interest while in high school was enough to draw me in deeply. I still get emotional when I view the opening titles sequence, which was filmed at the height of the Spring cherry blossom bloom in Kyoto, at Heian Shine, it is such a beautiful scene. Also I fell in love with Sayuri Yoshinaga, who played the sister the older sisters were trying to find a husband for. She is still acting today, most recently in Kabei - Our Mother (2007). I can't recommend this film enough for anyone interested in Japan. Now that it has finally been released in the USA on DVD and Blu-Ray, I'm ordering my copy today!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Soap opera lost in translation titles Nov. 30 2013
By William Flanigan - Published on
Format: DVD
Subtitles = 1/2 star; film = three stars. A pot boiler with sumptuous production values. Exterior location and interior sets look/are authentic. The kimonos are stunning. Acting, direction, and cinematography are close to (if not) first rate. Authentic Western Japan dialect (now and then). That's the good stuff. Now the rest. If you were native-born Japanese and lacked English language conversational skills (more and more a rarity today), imagine how, say, a BBC soap opera would come across based on subtitles? Without being able to catch and enjoy much in the way of acting nuances, subplots, etc., would it appear to be just plain tedious, repetitious, and boring? Probably. Also an apt description of this Criterion disc version: it's tedious, repetitious, and boring. The subtitles are vacuous and often incorrect. The disc cries out for extensive supplemental material on what the film is about, the culture it recreates, the author of the source material, backgrounds on the director and lead actresses, etc. If you lack Japanese conversational skills, work on your Japanese, and then re-visit the film in a few years. You might be amazed at how much it has "improved"! Except for the cheap synthesized music. WILLIAM FLANIGAN
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
The cinematic equivalent of cotton candy Sept. 19 2011
By Little Roy Blue - Published on
Format: DVD
I had high hopes for "The Makioka Sisters," for three reasons: 1) I love serious Japanese cinema; 2) I enjoy and respect two of director Kon Ichikawa's earlier films, "The Burmese Harp" and "Fires on the Plain"; and 3) the Criterion Collection almost always puts out great stuff. So imagine my surprise when "The Makioka Sisters" ended up being a massive piece of fluff! I'm glad I only rented it, and didn't just buy it sight unseen.

To be fair, I can understand why many people would like - or even love - this movie. It's a beautifully photographed film, and it has the aura of seriousness. But I couldn't help feeling that it's simply too long (clocking in at two hours and 20 minutes!), too melodramatic, and too superficial. Indeed, Donald Richie - the most influential critic of Japanese film to emerge from the West - has written off this film as a lame excuse to showcase pretty kimonos and "poetic" shots of cherry blossoms. While I don't always agree with Richie, I think he's spot on in this case.

Another major problem with the film is that the characters are thinly drawn and almost aggressively unlikeable (for example, witness how both of the elder Makioka sisters cruelly bully their servants). The oldest sister, played by the normally great actress Keiko Kishi, starts out shrewish and makes a totally unexplained conversion to being nice. The second-oldest sister, meanwhile, exists only to express shock at what her siblings are doing; I lost count of the number of times she gasps and exclaims "eeeeeh?!" in reaction to almost every little thing that happens around her. As for the youngest sister, I learned nothing about her except that she's a hellraiser (by 1930s Japanese standards) who likes hooking up with lower-class men. Her relationships with these men are never really explored, so they fall flat.

To matters even worse, the film has a very tacky, 1980s synthesizer score, and it occasionally lapses into music video territory, with arty-farty shots of falling petals or extreme closeups of kimonos abruptly jammed into the action. These strange touches severely undermine the movie's ambition to be a realistic domestic drama.

As for the Criterion Collection's DVD - it has a very attractive print but no notable special features, which is yet another reason to pass on this one. As an alternative to watching this, I would recommend almost any movie directed by Yasujiro Ozu, who had a unique gift for crafting beautiful domestic dramas. "The Makioka Sisters," by contrast, is more like soap opera than art.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A lovely film Oct. 9 2013
By R. Hertzberg - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The cinematography alone is worth the watch. This is a film adaptation of a well-known, highly revered novel and the casting of the sisters and their fellow life travelers was crucial to portray the subtleties inherent in the text. There is no disappointment here! The film does the novel proud. Like it's written counterpart, it is slow-moving and intricate. Beautifully crafted, beautifully acted, and gorgeous sets and costumes to finish off a fine production. Not to be missed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good study of a changing Japan. May 22 2013
By Laird M. Wilcox - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've just finished watching this for the third time spaced months apart. I like it a little more each time I see it. It's a great character study, an account of changes in Japanese society as it moves into modernity and is very well-filmed.

The four sisters, who live together in the same household, appear to be about 15 years apart in age from the youngest to the oldest with the youngest being outspoken and rebellious while the oldest is very traditional and old-fashioned. The film covers developments in each of their lives as well the relationship between them.

It does have the traits of a Jane Austin novel, a little bit like a soap opera and a typical Japanese family drama with a traditional and well-mannered flavor that reminds me of Ozu. The idea of a costume drama also comes to mind. If you are a student of Japan and Japanese film it's an important addition to your collection. Criterion has done a great job, as usual.