Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy Limited Edition Blu-ray from Arrow Academy in June
Source: Arrow Video US, MVD Entertainment Group press release
Special Thanks to Clint Weiler
Akio Jissoji created a rich and diverse body of work during his five decades in Japan’s film and television industries. For some, he is best-known for his science-fiction: the 1960s TV series ULTRAMAN (ウルトラマン 空想特撮シリーズ, Urutoraman Kuso Tokusatsu Shirizu, 1966-67) and ULTRA SEVEN (ウルトラセブン, Urutora Sebun, 1967-68) and 1988’s box-office success TOKYO: THE LAST MEGALOPOLIS (帝都物語, Teito Monogatari). For others, it is his 1990s adaptations of horror and mystery novelist Edogawa Rampo, such as WATCHER IN THE ATTIC (屋根裏の散歩者, Yaneura no Sanposha, 1992) and MURDER ON D STREET (D坂の殺人事件, D-Zaka no Satsujin Jiken, 1998). And then there are his New Wave films for the Art Theatre Guild, three of which — THIS TRANSIENT LIFE, MANDARA and POEM, forming The Buddhist Trilogy — are collected here.
Winner of the Golden Leopard award at the 1970 Locarno Film Festival, THIS TRANSIENT LIFE (無常, Mujo, 1970) is among the Art Theatre Guild’s most successful — and most controversial — productions. The film concerns a brother and sister from a rich family who defy the expectations placed on them: he has little interest in further education or his father’s business, instead obsessing over Buddhist statues; she continually refuses a string of suitors and the prospect of marriage. Their closeness, and isolation, gives way to an incestuous relationship which, in turn, breeds disaster. Starring Kotobuki Hananomoto (OPERATION: MYSTERY), Akiji Kobayashi (ULTRAMAN, GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH) and Eiji Okada (WOMAN IN THE DUNES, X FROM OUTER SPACE).
MANDARA (曼陀羅, 1971), Jissôji’s first color feature, maintained the controversial subject matter, focusing on a cult who recruit through rape and hope to achieve true ecstasy through sexual release. Shot, as with all of Jissôji’s Art Theatre Guild works, in a radically stylized manner, the film sits somewhere between the pinku genre and the fiercely experimental approach of his Japanese New Wave contemporaries. Starring Hiroko Sakurai (ULTRAMAN), Shin Kishida (RETURN OF ULTRAMAN, LAKE OF DRACULA, EVIL OF DRACULA, GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA) and Koji Shimizu (KAGEMUSHA).
The final entry in the trilogy, POEM (哥, Uta, 1972), returns to black and white and is centered on the austere existence of a young houseboy who becomes helplessly embroiled in the schemes of two brothers. Written by Toshirô Ishidô (screenwriter of Nagisa Ôshima’s THE SUN’S BURIAL and Shôhei Imamura’s BLACK RAIN), who also penned THIS TRANSIENT LIFE and MANDARA, POEM continues the trilogy’s exploration of faith in a post-industrial world. Starring Shin Kishida, Hiroko Sakurai and Saburo Shinoda (ULTRAMAN TARO, GODZILLA VS DESTOROYAH).
Street Date: 06/26/18
Label: Arrow Academy
Run Time: 143 / 132 / 119 mins
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: Mono 1.0
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 / 1.85:1 &/ 2.35:1
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of THIS TRANSIENT LIFE, MANDARA and POEM
• Original uncompressed LPCM mono 1.0 audio on all three films
• Newly translated optional English subtitles
• Introductions to all three films by David Desser, author of Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave
• Scene-select commentaries on all three films by Desser
• Theatrical trailer for MANDARA
• Theatrical trailer for POEM
• Limited edition packaging, fully illustrated by maarko phntm
• Illustrated 80-page perfect-bound collector’s book featuring new writings on the film by Anton Bitel and Tom Mes
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At the turn of the century, with the advent of DVD, MVD built a large catalog of exclusively distributed audiovisual content on DVD’s, with special strength in music concert films, horror movies, documentaries, comedy, cult classics, and much more.
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