New Release: Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse DVD

Yoshiko Okada stars in Mikio Naruse's 1932 melodrama No Blood Relation.

The Criterion Collection continued its love affair with the great filmmakers of Japans with the 26th DVD set in its Eclipse Series, this time compiling the silent films of Mikio Naruse, who was once one of the most popular directors in Japan. Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse was released on DVD by Criterion on March 22, 2011, for the list price of $44.95.

Naruse (Floating Clouds, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs) was a crafter of exquisite melodramas, mostly about women confined by their social and domestic circumstances. From the outset of his career, with his silent films of the early 1930s, Naruse zeroed in on the lives of the kinds of people — geisha, housewives, waitresses — who would continue to fascinate him for the next three decades. Though he made two dozen silent films, only five remain in existence, all of which are collected on DVD for the first time in newly restored editions.

All five films feature optional new scores by noted musicians Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz.

As the films are part of the Eclipse series of hard-to-come-by films issued in affordable editions, there are no DVD special features included in the collection.

The Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse collection contains the following films:

Flunky, Work Hard (Koshiben ganbare, 1931)
Mikio Naruse’s earliest film in circulation is a charming, breezy short about an impoverished insurance salesman, Okabe, who is desperate to sell a policy to a wealthy family, and his scrappy young son, whose fisticuffs among the other boys of their village put Okabe’s livelihood in jeopardy.

No Blood Relation (Nasanu naka, 1932)
An actress returns to Tokyo after a successful stint in Hollywood to reclaim the daughter she abandoned years before — with the help of her gangster brother. This film features a screenplay by famed writer Kogo Noda.

Apart From You (Kimi to wakarete, 1933)
In this exploration of the lives of working women, Naruse contrasts the life of an aging geisha, whose angry teenage son is ashamed of her career, with that of her youthful counterpart, a lovely young girl resentful of her family for selling her into a life of ignominy.

Every-Night Dreams (Yogoto no yume, 1933)
A single mother works tirelessly as a Ginza bar hostess to ensure a better life for her young son. Her long-lost husband returns, vowing to find work and take care of the family, yet his presence only complicates matters in this study of lower-class life in Tokyo.

Street Without End (Kagirinaki hodo, 1934)
Mikio Naruse’s final silent film is a rich portrait of a waitress whose life, despite a host of male admirers and even some intrigued movie talent scouts, ends up taking a suffocatingly domestic turn after a wealthy businessman accidentally hits her with his car.


Buy or Rent Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse
Amazon graphic
DVD Empire graphicDVD Movies Unlimited graphicDVD Netflix graphic

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.