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

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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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Amazon.com: 33 reviews
105 of 109 people found the following review helpful
Worthwhile film for those with patience March 4 2007
By High Sierra - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I've owned the VHS version of this movie for many years and have always enjoyed watching it. Some Westerners don't seem to like the film because the plot moves very slowly. Also, I think Americans have trouble warming up to a story revolving around an arranged marriage.

The original title of both the Tanizaki book and the movie is "Sasame Yuki" (light snow). Like the Eskimos, the Japanese have many words to describe snow, which is one of the main motifs in the movie. Even the cherry blossoms fall like snow. And one of the Makioka sisters is named Yukiko which literally means "snow child."

The dominant theme of the movie is the changing nature of the world and the loss of traditional values and culture. Like it or not, the old values make way for the newer ones. The older Makioka sisters resist the forces of change. But they gradually come to the realization that they can't live forever in the glorious past, especially given the family's declining economic fortunes. There is a sadness about his movie that I find very touching.

As is the case with many adaptations of books, much is left out in the film version. The Great Hanshin Flood is not mentioned in the movie. Also, Taeko, the youngest Makioka sister, is portrayed differently in the film. In the book she is a much more sinister character. One of the ironies is that her name means "beautiful or very fortunate child."

There are some very funny moments in the film, including the scene in a Chinese restaurant where Yukiko meets a husband candidate. Call it a matchmaker's worst nightmare.

Makioka Sisters is not for everyone. But I think those who watch it with patience and an open mind will be rewarded. It also helps that the cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful.

Update: Glad to see Criterion has come out with DVD and Blu-ray versions.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
The finest film from Japan I've ever seen June 14 2011
By D. Lee - Published on Amazon.com
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!
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Tribute to a Lost Era Feb. 12 2007
By Bryan A. Pfleeger - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Kon Ichikawa's seldom seen film The Makioka Sisters gives a glimpse into a culture that was on its way out at the time the movie was set. The year is 1938, Japan is involved in a war that will thrust it into the modern age and the Makioka sisters, daughters of a wealthy merchant, attemt to continue their traditional existence in a rapidly changing culture.

Plot wise the film seems like an Eastern version of a Jane Austen novel. Four sisters try to carry on the traditional culture of arranged and ordered marriages as the world changes around them. Ichikawa paints colorful pictures of an idyllic Japan that is poised on the modern era.

The film is beautiful to see with its colorful depictions of the changing seasons in Japan from spring to winter. The version that I saw however left something to be desired. This film only seems to be available on VHS. The picture is quite soft and the subtitles are in white. The subtitles are often difficult to read because they blur into the background. This is an important film that is unfortunately neglected. It would be wonderful if a company like Criterion took and interest an gave us a better transfer of this film so that it could be better appreciated as it deserves to be. This is one of the last great masterpieces of one of Japan's most important directors. The film deserves better.
35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
It's Available Nov. 25 2010
By Gerry Scott-Moore - Published on Amazon.com
For many years this was unavailable in any format. But now it is.

This is a good movie. A movie I love. I loved it years ago. Now I love it again.

29 of 33 people (at this moment) found this review helpful, but at that time had nothing to do with this DVD, as it was not available at that time.

Anyway it is sublime, and if you are here reading reviews just get it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A lovely film Oct. 9 2013
By R. Hertzberg - Published on Amazon.com
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.