New Release: Seven Samurai and others from Criterion on Blu-ray

Seven Samurai movie scene

Seven Samurai

Criterion Collection released Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai on Blu-ray in October 2010, as well as Nobuhiko Obayashi’s ghost story House, Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician, Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited and Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory on DVD and Blu-ray.

Seven Samurai was released in a two-disc edition on Blu-ray on Oct. 19, 2010, priced at $49.95. The three-hour movie tells the story of a 16th century village whose inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits.

In Japanese with English subtitles, the movie was restored and remastered for the Blu-ray and comes with these  special features:

• two audio commentaries: one by film scholars David Desser, Joan Mellen, Stephen Prince, Tony Rayns, and Donald Richie and the other by Japanese film expert Michael Jeck
• 50-minute documentary on the making of Seven Samurai
My Life in Cinema two-hour video conversation between directors Akira Kurosawa and Nagisa Oshima
Seven Samurai: Origins and Influences documentary that looks at the samurai traditions and films that helped shape Kurosawa’s masterpiece
• theatrical trailers and teaser
• gallery of rare posters and behind-the-scenes and production stills
• booklet featuring essays by Kenneth Turan, Peter Cowie, Philip Kemp, Peggy Chiao, Alain Silver, Stuart Galbraith, Arthur Penn, and Sidney Lumet, and an interview with Toshiro Mifune from 1993

Horror movie House, which Criterion describes as “indescrible,” is about a schoolgirl who travels with six of her classmates to her ailing aunt’s country home and comes face to face with evil spirits, a demonic cat and a bloodthirsty piano.

Also in Japanese with English subtitles, 1977’s House has not been available on home video in the U.S. before. Released on Oct. 26, the movie was priced at $29.95 on DVD and $39.95 on Blu-ray.

The special features on both are:

Constructing a House new video piece featuring interviews with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, story scenarist and daughter of the director Chigumi Obayashi, and screenwriter Chiho Katsura
Emotion 1966 experimental film by Obayashi
• new video appreciation by director Ti West (House of the Devil)
• theatrical trailer
• new and improved English subtitle translation
• essay by Chuck Stephens

Bergman’s The Magician, a black and white film from 1958, stars Max von Sydow (Shutter Island, The Exorcist) as a mid-19th century traveling mesmerist and peddler of potions whose magic is put to the test by a town’s cruel minister of health.

In Swedish with English subtitles, The Magician was priced at $29.95 on DVD and $39.95 on Blu-ray and debuted on Oct. 12. Special features are:

• vew visual essay by Bergman scholar Peter Cowie
• 1967 video interview with director Ingmar Bergman about the film
• new and improved English subtitle translation
• booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoff Andrew, a reprinted essay by Assayas, and an excerpt from Bergman’s autobiography Images: My Life in Film

The Darjeeling Limited from Anderson (Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox) follows three estranged American brothers in a soul-searching train ride across India a year after the death of their father. The movie stars Owen Wilson (Little Fockers), Adrien Brody (Splice), Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Anjelica Huston (When in Rome).

The 2007 comedy also was priced at $29.95 on DVD and $39.95 on Blu-ray and arrived on Oct. 12. Special features are:

• Anderson’s short film Hotel Chevalier (part one of The Darjeeling Limited), starring Natalie Portman (No Strings Attached), with commentary by Anderson
• commentary featuring Anderson and cowriters Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola
• behind-the-scenes documentary by Barry Braverman
• Anderson and filmmaker James Ivory discussing the film’s music
• Anderson’s American Express commercial
• on-set footage shot by Coppola and actor Waris Ahluwalia
• audition footage, deleted and alternate scenes, and stills galleries
• original theatrical trailer
• booklet featuring an essay by critic Richard Brody and original illustrations by Eric Anderson

And finally, Kubrick’s 1957 anti-war Paths of Glory stars Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) as a French colonel in World War I who battles the Army’s ruthless top brass when his men are accused of cowardice after being unable to do an impossible mission.

The black-and-white film was priced the same — $29.95 on DVD and $39.95 on Blu-ray — and arrived on Oct. 26. Special features:

• new audio commentary by critic Gary Giddins
• television interview from 1979 with star Douglas
• new video interviews with Kubrick’s longtime executive producer Jan Harlan, producer James B. Harris and actress Christiane Kubrick
• excerpt from a French television program about real-life World War I executions similar to the events dramatized in Paths of Glory
• theatrical trailer
• essay by Kubrick scholar James Naremore

About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.