Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 29th, 2017
Theatrical Release Dates: Japan, 1969 (Eros + Massacre), Japan, 1970 (Heroic Purgatory), Japan, 1973 (Coup d’Etat)
Director: Kiju Yoshida (All Films)
Writers: Masahiro Yamada, Kiju Yoshida (Eros + Massacre), Masahiro Yamada (Heroic Purgatory), Minoru Betsuyaku (Coup d’Etat)
Cast: Mariko Okada, Toshiyuki Hosokawa, Yûko Kusunoki, Kazuko Inano, Etsushi Takahashi, Daijirô Harada, Toshiko Ii (Eros + Massacre), Mariko Okada, Kaizo Kamoda, Naho Kimura, Yoshiaki Makita, Kaneko Iwasaki, Tôru Takeuchi, Kazumi Tsutsui (Heroic Purgatory), Rentarô Mikuni, Yasuo Miyake, Akiko Kurano, Tadahiko Sugano, Masako Yagi, Yasuyo Matsumura, Kei Iinuma, Masao Imafuku, Kazunaga Tsuji, Taketoshi Naitô (Coup d’Etat)
BluRay released: May 9th, 2015
Approximate running times: 164 minutes (Eros + Massacre Theatrical Version), 216 minutes (Eros + Massacre Director’s Cut), 118 minutes (Heroic Purgatory), 110 Minutes (Coup d’Etat)
Aspect Ratios: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Eros + Massacre), 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Heroic Purgatory / Coup d’Etat)
Rating: NR (All Films)
Sound: LPCM Mono Japanese (All Films)
Subtitles: English (All Films)
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $99.95
Eros + Massacre: This film’s narrative follows two parallel stories. The first of these stories revolves around an anarchist named Sakae Osugi and his relationships with three women. The second of these stories revolves around two activists who are researching Sakae Osugi.
The film’s dueling narratives take place in different eras, the scenes revolving around Sakae Osugi take place during the 1920’s and the scenes with the activists take place during the 1960’s. Structurally the way in which this film’s narrative is far from conventional and there is not an even balance between these two distinctively different time periods.
Though this film is based on the life and death of Sakae Osugi. There were some changes that had to be made to this film due to one of Sakae Osugi’s former lovers threatening director Kiju Yoshida for using her name. At the time when this film was being made, she was an active politician in Japan.
Eros + Massacre is widely regarded as his masterpiece. And the advantage of having two version of Eros + Massacre is more than just one version being shorter than the other version. With the shorter version removing more from the narrative that takes place during the 1920’s.
Heroic Purgatory: After interacting with a lost teenager that his wife brought home, a man recalls his youth as a revolutionary.
Though Heroic Purgatory was inspired by real life individuals and historic events like Eros + Massacre and Coup d’Etat, the other film’s which make up Kiju Yoshida’s trilogy about radicalism. Those two films are more straightforward adaptions of their sources, while Heroic Purgatory’s use of real life people / events is more obscured.
The narrative for Heroic Purgatory follows an abstract structure that defies space and time. The narrative takes place in three different eras’, the past, the present and the future. And though the film’s opening setup starts off conventional enough to follow. This cannot be said for the rest of the film narrative.
Coup d’Etat: An ultranationalist intellectual’s ideas inspire a military coup against the Japanese government.
Out of the three films which make of Kiju Yoshida radicalism trilogy, Coup d’Etat has the most conventional narrative. And said narrative is based on the an attempted coup of Japan in 1936 that was inspired by the writings of an intellectual named Ikki Kita.
Besides being tied together by their main theme radicalism, Eros + Massacre and Heroic Purgatory are linked by the fragmented narratives and they both feature destructive bourgeois female characters. And with Coup d’Etat switching the gender in regards to this type of character.
Another area where these three films are linked are through their visuals. And said visuals are meticulously framed compositions that are filled with symbolism. And not to be overlooked, the use of music in these three films. With the music and visuals forming a poetic fusion that reinforces that themes that are explored in these three films.
Content wise, though these three films are often challenging as they push the boundaries of cinema. Fortunately, these films take on universal themes that are easy to identify with.
The film’s included as part of this collection are spread over three 50 GB dual layer BluRay’s. Disc one contains the director’s cut of Eros + Massacre. Disc two contains the theatrical version of Eros + Massacre. The third disc contains Heroic Purgatory and Coup d’Etat. All of these transfers do a superb job retaining the intended look of these films and the HD transfers used for this release were supervised by Kiju Yoshida.
Each film comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced and the more ambient aspects of the soundtracks are well represented throughout.
Extras on disc one include, an introduction with author David Desser for the director’s version of Eros + Massacre (9 minutes 5 seconds) and a scene select audio commentary track for the director’s version of Eros + Massacre with David Desser.
Topics discussed by David Desser include, why Kiju Yoshida made numerous cuts and changes to the film, the real-life events that the film was based on, Japanese New Wave cinema and the pros and cons of the two versions of Eros + Massacre.
Extras on disc two include, a trailer for Eros + Massacre (3 minutes 30 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), an introduction with author David Desser for the theatrical version of Eros + Massacre (11 minutes 21 seconds), a documentary titled Yoshida …or: The Explosion of the Story (30 minutes 8 seconds, in Japanese and English with English subtitles) and a scene select audio commentary track for the theatrical version of Eros + Massacre with David Desser.
Topic-08s discussed by David Desser include, how and why Eros + Massacre is Kiju Yoshida’s masterpiece, the visuals / Kiju Yoshida’s directing style, how the film’s narrative inter-cuts between two time periods and the real-life events that the film was based on.
The extra tilted Yoshida …or: The Explosion of the Story includes comments from director Kiju Yoshida and film critics Mathieu Capel and Jean Douchet who discuss Eros + Massacre.
Extras on disc three include, trailers for Heroic Purgatory (3 minutes 1 second, in Japanese with English subtitles) and Coup d’Etat (2 minutes 56 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), introduction’s with Kiju Yoshida for Heroic Purgatory (6 minutes 8 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and Coup d’Etat (5 minutes 22 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), introduction’s with David Desser for Heroic Purgatory (9 minutes 12 seconds) and Coup d’Etat (8 minutes 48 seconds) and scene select audio commentaries for Heroic Purgatory and Coup d’Etat with David Desser.
Topics discussed by Kiju Yoshida include, how the Korean war affected Japan, the communist party in postwar Japan, his thoughts about revolution, what he was trying to achieve with Heroic Purgatory and Eros + Massacre, the origins of Coup d’Etat and the real-life events that the film was based on.
Topics discussed by David Desser include, the real-life events that inspired Heroic Purgatory, Kiju Yoshida, his thoughts about Heroic Purgatory, background information about Coup d’Etat, actor Rentarô Mikuni and his thoughts about Coup d’Etat.
Rounding out the extras are reversible cover art and an eighty-page booklet with cast & crew information for all three films included in this collection, an essay titled Yoshida, a Career written by David Desser, an essay titled The Revolution Triptych written by Isolde Standish, an essay titled Kiju Yoshida and ATG: The Reluctant Partner written by Dick Stegewerns and information about the transfers. Included with this combo release are four DVD’s which contain the contents that are included on the three Blu-Ray’s.
Overall Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism is another spectacular release from Arrow Academy, highly recommended.
Note: This release is limited edition Blu-ray collection (3,000 copies).