MMC! asked for it 2 years and 9 months ago in a Criterion edition, but it’s Arrow Academy that has answered our request for Tomu Uchida’s Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, a classic of Japanese cinema and a welcome entry point for a great director little known outside his homeland. Those looking for more on Uchida and a spoiler filled survey of the film can refer back to my post on Bloody Spear as well as my discussion of Uchida’s other masterpiece, A Fugitive of the Past. Here’s hoping that Arrow Academy’s foray in Uchida’s filmography is a sign that an AA edition of Fugitive (and other Uchida films) might also be on the horizon and that Japanese film fans might find a new director to celebrate and, in the case of Fugitive, a new favourite crime procedural to embrace. Take that High and Low!
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji.
Already established and celebrated as an exemplary filmmaker in the 1920s and 1930s, Tomu Uchida returned to Japanese cinemas after a near decade-long absence in Manchuria to make Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, a compassionate tale about a lowly lancer named Gonpachi (Chiezô Kataoka) who travels with his young samurai master and another servant to Edo along the Tokaido road, repeatedly encountering the same peasant travelers. A community is gradually formed between them as they become familiar with each other and their personal struggles despite the class barriers that separate them. Made with assistance of fellow filmmakers Yasujirô Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Daisuke Itô, and Hiroshi Shimizu, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji is a picaresque story that deftly blends humor and drama to reveal the contradictory nature of Japanese society and stands as one of master director Tomu Uchida’s greatest films.
- High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- New video interviews with critics Tadao Sato, David Bordwell, and Kristin Thompson
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by scholar Tony Rayns and an excerpt from Donald Richie’s essay “Rediscovering the Work of Tomu Ichida” written for the 2004 Tokyo FILMeX International Film Festival.