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The Bad Sleep Well (Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Kyôko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi, Takashi Shimura
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Eijirô Hisaita, Hideo Oguni, Ryûzô Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto
  • Producers: Akira Kurosawa, Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Jan. 17 2006
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BR6QCI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,608 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
After viewing Ran my initial reaction was simple awe. I had never before seen such a stunning epic, and never had the story of King Lear been adapted so poetically and viscerally. There has not been a film since that has come close to the way I perceived Ran, I was simply blown away.

After viewing a few more Kurosawa pictures I came upon one entitled 'Throne of Blood'. While I felt it was defiantly one of Kurosawa's stronger pictures, it also seemed to lack the Shakespearian atmosphere that Ran had. I liked it, but felt it was closer to The Seven Samurai as oppose to Ran.

Then, later still, I came upon The Bad Sleep Well. I expected something similar to Throne of Blood, with Kurosawa's 50s-60s atmosphere rather then his 80s-90s atmosphere. Well it turned out that I was wrong. The Bad Sleep Well is easily Kurosawa's most underrated picture, overshadowed by Yojimbo & Sanjuro afterward, and The Hidden Fortress before. The Bad Sleep Well however, does not take the same ambiance as those pictures, rather it shows a flash of Kurosawa's elderly genius from such pictures as Kagemusha and Ran(not to undermine his early genius, its just that the film feels much like one of his later pictures). I won't bother going into detail on the story, as most are already familiar with Shakespeare's Hamlet, and American film-noir; but what I will tell you however, is how well it adapts to the story(s), and that its narrative really flows at a great pace.

The Bad Sleep Well features a great performance by Toshiro Mifune, playing the Hamlet character in a very interesting way, similar in some ways to Laurence Olivier's 1948 version. His performance is what steals the show; although I thought there were some interesting supporting roles, none really stand up to his sheer intensity.
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Format: DVD
I can't believe the other reviewers were reviewing the same dvd. This is a great movie, don't get me wrong. It's Kurasawa, after all. My one star is for the people at Mei Ah who put out this dvd. Whoever did the subtitle translation did not speak English well enough to graduate from a level one ESL class. The subtitles are truly terrible, sometimes bizarre, and I thought at times I was dreaming I was watching a Monty Python skit. Alas, I was not; this was for real. Such a shame.
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Format: VHS Tape
This film is really unique (even for Kurosawa) in that it captures all of the mystery, suspense, and angst of a noir, while maintaining the very same majestic gravitas as *Seven Samurai*, *Throne of Blood*, *Ran* or any of Kurosawa's great medieval epics.
Indeed much of Kurosawa's best work carries a highly distinctive and supremely confident muscular swagger which can be found here in the stirring (and rather addictive) musical motif, the altogether patient and very deliberate pacing, and the seemingly effortless transitions he makes between the tragic and the comic.
*The Bad Sleep Well* often gets described as a variation on *Hamlet*. The key word here is "variation" (rather than "version" or "adaptation"), for while Kurosawa might have begun with Shakespeare, the final products really don't turn out to be in any sense all that similar. There is no Gertrude, no Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, let alone any gravediggers (just to name a few), and there is very little structural resemblance between the stories (inasmuch as *Hamlet* can be said to have any sort of structure). For example, the finale doesn't conclude with virtually *everybody* getting killed--after all, in Kurosawa's framework the bad sleep well (and consequently live happily ever after). Also, Nishi's character is much less ambiguous than Hamlet's; while he may at certain junctures fail to take his plan for revenge the entire way, he doesn't come close to sharing the overall indecision and confusion of Hamlet. But these sorts of differences actually make the complex interrelationship between the two works all the more intriguing and thought-provoking.
The film's story might eventually become "clear as a bell," but it certainly does not start out that way.
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Format: VHS Tape
Most people who watch Akira Kurosawa's films don't seem to read much Shakespere. Of course, I may be wrong. However, it hardly seems so because only one of the reviews bothers to mention that this particular film is based upon Hamlet, a work by Shakespere. This is the case, really, for most of Akira's films. Throughout his life, he often drew inspiration from the ideas and themes expressed throughout Shakespere's works. This film is hardly tedious, though it requires as much attention as would witnessing a play by shakespere. The good part about this film is, you don't have to understand the old English that Shakespere used in writing his plays. I watched it when I was only 13 years old and understood it perfectly. Not only that, I found myself enthralled and inspired by it. It's a wonderful and simple indroduction to the works of Shakespere for anyone interested in reading any of his works. The Japanese sensibilities and cultural nuances attached to this film only add to the lushness of it and broaden the observer's experience. It shows the observer that the themes and ideas of Shakespere's stories are international and timeless. A masterpiece in any language. However, I would not recommend this film for the common movie goer expecting a "cheap thrill". This story is no "Titanic" or "Legally Blonde". It has only good actors a fine plot and an excellent director.It is cinema gourmet not fast food.
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