The Whale God (Tokuzo Tanaka, 1962)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Whale God.

criterion logoA small Japanese village is obsessed with killing a monstrous whale that has decimated its hunting parties. The town’s wealthiest man offers his land, position, and only daughter to the individual who can kill the demon whale. Shaki, a popular young man whose family has been massacred by the beast, steps forward vowing to slay the whale and avenge his relations, but his efforts are complicated by a brutish stranger to the village also intent on killing the monster and collecting on the promised riches. Based on Koichiro Uno’s award-winning novel published the previous year and scripted by visionary writer-director Kaneto Shindo, this loose adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick captures the madness and danger of whaling and combines it with period drama and kaiju monster effects.

Disc Features:

  • New, high definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with Japanese film critic Tadao Sato
  • New interview with Japanese-literature scholar Jeffrey Angles
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic, novelist, and musician Chris D.

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The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon (Yugo Serikawa, 1963)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon.

criterion logoA landmark animated film, the Toei Doga studio’s sixth feature The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon reimagines a Shinto myth and casts the storm god Susano’o as a headstrong, young child on a fantastic journey to find and save his dead mother.  The boy adventurer, aided by Akahana the rabbit and the giant Titan Bo, travels to the crystalline land of night, faces the god of fire, and battles to save a princess from the Yamata no Orochi, a legendary Japanese dragon.  Memorable for animator Yasuji Mori’s break from the established Toei house-style and a rare score for an animated film by famed composer Akira Ifukube, The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon is a modernist treasure from one of the world’s great animation studios, presented here in its original Japanese version.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored high-definition transfer in full Fujicolor and 2.35:1 Toeiscope, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Isolated score by Akira Ikufube
  • New video piece with animator Genndy Tartakovsky on The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon and its influence
  • New video piece with animation critic and historian Charles Solomon on Toei Doga
  • New interview with animator and historian Takashi Namiki on animator Yasuji Mori, including an extensive gallery of Mori’s illustrations
  • Kitty’s Graffiti (1957) and Kitty’s Studio (1959), two short animated films by Mori
  • Trailers for The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon and other Toei Doga animated features
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring a new essay by animation historian Jerry Beck

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