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Double Suicide (The Criterion Collection) (1970)

Kichiemon Nakamura , Shima Iwashita , Masahiro Shinoda  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kichiemon Nakamura, Shima Iwashita, Shizue Kawarazaki, Tokie Hidari, Sumiko Hidaka
  • Directors: Masahiro Shinoda
  • Writers: Masahiro Shinoda, Monzaemon Chikamatsu, Taeko Tomioka, Tôru Takemitsu
  • Producers: Masahiro Shinoda, Masayuki Nakajima
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: January 30, 2001
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000560QE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,021 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Double Suicide (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Many films have drawn from classic Japanese theatrical forms, but none with such shocking cinematic effect as director Masahiro Shinoda's Double Suicide. In this striking adaptation of a bunraku puppet play (featuring the music of famed composer Toru Takemitsu), a paper merchant sacrifices family, fortune, and ultimately life for his erotic obsession with a prostitute. Criterion is proud to present Double Suicide in a stunning digital transfer, with a new and improved English subtitle translation.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post modern classical Japanese puppet theater January 26, 2004
Masahiro Shinoda's "Double Suicide" is one of several cinematic adaptations of famed Japanese playwright Chikamatsu's classic Bunraku puppet play "Shinju Ten no Amijima (Double Suicide at Amijima.)" Bunraku is one of three traditional Japanese theater styles, and includes black clothed puppeteers onstage manipulating their miniature charges. The story is the struggle between ninjo and giri, personal feelings and social duty. This struggle is the dominant theme of Japanese theater, bringing to life the oft-quoted expression "the nail that sticks up must be hammered down." To act from personal emotions is devastating.
Shinoda combines classical theater with stunning modern film techniques and cinematography. The nod to the origin of the story is found in the black clad puppeteers who hover in the background. It is a most excellent film in every way. It is all the more exceptional for its essential "japaneseness," far more so than Kurosawa's westernized films. The artificialness of Japanese theater is also captured well, as opposed to the attempted naturalness of western theater.
I do agree that this Criterion Collection DVD is beautiful, but sadly lacking for extras. In many other films the lack of extras would not be so important, but "Double Suicide" is a film that craves exploration. A filmed sample of the original Bunraku production, for example. Some background on
Chikamatsu. Those not familiar with Bunraku might not understand the dark, background puppeteers or be confused by the artful melodrama.
Still, even with such a barebones production, and excellent film and and an excellent DVD.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning April 10, 2001
A number of reviewers of Criterion discs have commented that it's too bad that some of their discs have lots of extras while some (such as Double Suicide) have none.
My response is to judge the film on its own merits. If it weren't for Criterion, I probably never would have heard of this film, and I certainly never would have seen such a luminous transfer. The film is beautiful and strange, and warrants multiple viewings.
Critics of the lack of extras should also note that the more "bare-bones" Criterion discs are priced less than the fully-packed ones.
I think Criterion did a really great job with this wonderful film.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Cast October 22, 2004
Having no familiarity with classic Japanese theatrical forms, I bought this DVD to get a pleasant means of education. I could always sell it back on eBay, afterall, and get half my money back. It turned out to be, for me, much more than another foreign movie. Viewing this film was like being at a live performance with great actors - I was hypnotised, in awe of the raw emotions that spilled out(all while reading the English subtitles!). I will never part with this film, even if I sold the DVD-it will always be with me!
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Double Suicide is director Masahiro Shinoda's stunning cinematic adaptation of a classic Japanese bunraku puppet drama. The film is striking in its visual look -- puppeteers (or kurago) appear on stage with the actors, as if to assist them in their actions and choices and guide them along to their inescapable fates.
Shinoda's amazing film has never looked better than it does on Criterion's DVD release of the film. If you love the look and feel of a black-and-white movie, your jaw will hit the floor when you feast your eyes on the amazing transfer on this disc.
Unfortunately, there are no extras or supplemental material included - no trailers, commentary, documentaries, or text pages. There is a great essay in the liner notes by film critic Claire Johnston, but I was hoping for more extensive background material on the film. Once one gets spoiled by many of Criterion's other fantastic discs (Brazil, Chasing Amy, Seven Samuari, etc.), it can be hard to accept a DVD that has "just the movie".
Nonetheless, the fantastic quality of both the film itself and its gorgeous transfer makes me recommend the disc to movie-lovers everywhere!
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