Arrow Films

Throughout the 1980s, Shohei Imamura (The Pornographers, Profound Desires of the Gods), a leading figure of the Japanese New Wave era of the 1960s, cemented his international reputation as one of the most important directors of his generation with a series of films that all competed at Cannes to great critical acclaim. This exclusive box set from Arrow Academy presents restored versions of three late career classics from the legendary filmmaker.

Based on an ancient folktale, The Ballad of Narayama (1983) was the first of two works from the director to win the prestigious Cannes Palme d’Or. Imamura’s magnum opus depicts the members of an extended farming family eking out their existence in the mountainous north of Japan against the backdrop of the changing seasons before village lore decrees they make the sacrifice of abandoning their aged mother on the top of a nearby mountain when she reaches her seventieth year. Making its HD debut, Zegen (1987) takes a satirical look at Japan’s prewar colonial expansion through the unscrupulous eyes of its flesh-peddler antihero as he establishes a prostitution enterprise across Southeast Asia. Finally, the harrowing Black Rain (1989) details the precarious existence of a household of atomic bomb survivors as, five years after being caught in the blast of Hiroshima, they struggle to find a husband for their 25-year-old niece.

These three works epitomise the director’s almost documentary style of filmmaking, exposing the vulgar yet vibrant and instinctive underbelly of Japanese society through a sympathetic focus on peasants, prostitutes, criminal lowlife and other marginalised figures to explore the schism between the country’s timeless premodern traditions and the modern face it projects to the world.

Special Features

  • Restored High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all three films
  • Original lossless Japanese PCM 1.0 mono soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentaries on all three films by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp
  • Brand new, in-depth appreciations of all three films by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • Alternate colour ending to Black Rain, shot by Imamura but removed from the film shortly before its release
  • Archival interviews on Black Rain with actress Yoshiko Tanaka and assistant director Takashi Miike
  • Multiple trailers and image galleries
  • Original Japanese press kits for The Ballad of Narayama and Black Rain (BD-ROM content)
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet containing new writing by Tom Mes
  • Limited edition packaging featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
studio:
Arrow Academy
Run Time:
378 mins approx
Director:
Shohei Imamura
Certificate:
TBC
Actor:
Ken Ogata

Sumiko Sakamoto

Mitsuko Baisho

Kazuo Kitamura

Etsuko Ichihara

Yoshiko Tanaka
Subtitle Languages:
English
Main Language:
Japanese
Number of Discs:
3
Region:
B
Brand:
Arrow Academy

Survivor Ballads: Three Films by Shohei Imamura - Limited Edition

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Arrow Films

Throughout the 1980s, Shohei Imamura (The Pornographers, Profound Desires of the Gods), a leading figure of the Japanese New Wave era of the 1960s, cemented his international reputation as one of the most important directors of his generation with a series of films that all competed at Cannes to great critical acclaim. This exclusive box set from Arrow Academy presents restored versions of three late career classics from the legendary filmmaker.

Based on an ancient folktale, The Ballad of Narayama (1983) was the first of two works from the director to win the prestigious Cannes Palme d’Or. Imamura’s magnum opus depicts the members of an extended farming family eking out their existence in the mountainous north of Japan against the backdrop of the changing seasons before village lore decrees they make the sacrifice of abandoning their aged mother on the top of a nearby mountain when she reaches her seventieth year. Making its HD debut, Zegen (1987) takes a satirical look at Japan’s prewar colonial expansion through the unscrupulous eyes of its flesh-peddler antihero as he establishes a prostitution enterprise across Southeast Asia. Finally, the harrowing Black Rain (1989) details the precarious existence of a household of atomic bomb survivors as, five years after being caught in the blast of Hiroshima, they struggle to find a husband for their 25-year-old niece.

These three works epitomise the director’s almost documentary style of filmmaking, exposing the vulgar yet vibrant and instinctive underbelly of Japanese society through a sympathetic focus on peasants, prostitutes, criminal lowlife and other marginalised figures to explore the schism between the country’s timeless premodern traditions and the modern face it projects to the world.

Special Features

  • Restored High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all three films
  • Original lossless Japanese PCM 1.0 mono soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentaries on all three films by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp
  • Brand new, in-depth appreciations of all three films by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • Alternate colour ending to Black Rain, shot by Imamura but removed from the film shortly before its release
  • Archival interviews on Black Rain with actress Yoshiko Tanaka and assistant director Takashi Miike
  • Multiple trailers and image galleries
  • Original Japanese press kits for The Ballad of Narayama and Black Rain (BD-ROM content)
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet containing new writing by Tom Mes
  • Limited edition packaging featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
studio:
Arrow Academy
Run Time:
378 mins approx
Director:
Shohei Imamura
Certificate:
TBC
Actor:
Ken Ogata

Sumiko Sakamoto

Mitsuko Baisho

Kazuo Kitamura

Etsuko Ichihara

Yoshiko Tanaka
Subtitle Languages:
English
Main Language:
Japanese
Number of Discs:
3
Region:
B
Brand:
Arrow Academy

Customer Reviews

Overall Rating : 5.0 / 5 (1 Reviews)
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Top Customer Reviews

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Survivor Ballads

Great collection of films. A great addition alongside some of Arrow’s other Japanese sets such as the Yoshida and Jissoji sets.  The transfers for Narayama and Black Rain were not done by Arrow, so some DNR has been applied, but it is not excessive or distracting. Arrow did their own restoration for Zegen and it is excellent. Encodes are great as usual from Arrow. Audio sounds crisp and clear and is in the original mix. Special Features aren’t abundant, but valuable with Tony Rayns providing valuable contributions that give lots of information and put the films in their context. Keep supporting Arrow’s non-genre Japanese sets, they are one of the few labels still willing to put out releases like this.

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