Blu-ray Release: Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy

Blu-ray Release Date: Aug. 20, 2019
Price: Blu-ray $71.05
Studio: Arrow/MVD

For some, Japanese filmmaker and TV creator Akio Jissôji is best-known for his science-fiction: the 1960s TV series Ultraman and 1988’s box-office success Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis. For others, it is his 1990s adaptations of horror and mystery novelist Edogawa Rampo, such as Watcher in the Attic and Murder on D Street.

But then, there are the wholly unique New Wave films he made for the Art Theatre Guild. The best known remain are the early Seventies’s This Transient Life, Mandara and Poem, which form The Buddhist Trilogy.

This Transient Life (1970)

Winner of the Golden Leopard award at the 1970 Locarno Film Festival, This Transient Life is among the Art Theatre Guild’s most successful – and most controversial – productions. The film concerns a brother and sister from a rich family who defy the expectations that are placed on them, which find the son obsessing over Buddhist statues. In Mandara, Jissôji’s first color feature, the focus is on a cult who recruit through rape and hope to achieve true ecstasy through sexual release. Shot in a radically stylized manner, the film sits somewhere between the pinku genre and the experimental approach of his Japanese New Wave contemporaries. The final entry in the trilogy, Poem, returns to black and white and is centered on the austere existence of a young houseboy who becomes helplessly embroiled in the schemes of two brothers.  Like its predecesors, Poem explores the concept of faith in a post-industrial world.

Arrow’s handsome and ambitious collection includes the following:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of This Transient Life, Mandara and Poem
  • Original uncompressed LPCM mono 1.0 audio on all three films
  • Newly translated optional English subtitles
  • Introductions to all three films by David Desser, author of Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave
  • Scene-select commentaries on all three films in the Trilogy by Desser
  • Theatrical trailers for Mandara, Poem and It Was A Faint Dream
  • Limited edition packaging, fully illustrated by maarko phntm
  • Illustrated 60-page perfect-bound collector’s book featuring new writings on the films by Anton Bitel and Tom Mes


Buy or Rent Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy

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.