The Lower Depths: Akira Kurosawa/Jean Renoir [Criterion Collection] [DVD]

Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa transferred the setting of Maxim Gorky's play The Lower Depths from Imperial Russia to his own country's Edo Period--which, like Gorky's 19th-century setting, was an era of great cultural advances, offset by the miseries of those who weren't in the aristocracy. Kurosawa's film concentrates on Toshiro Mifune, playing a crooked gambler who falls in love with the sister (Kyoko Kagawa) of his cruel landlady (Isuzu Yamada). Herself carrying a torch for Mifune, the landlady exacts a roundabout revenge by killing her own husband and pinning the blame on the gambler. As the landlady descends into madness, those whom she has treated wretchedly laugh at her plight. Originally titled Donzoko, The Lower Depths was renamed Les Bas-Fonds for its French release--the same title bestowed upon Jean Renoir's 1937 adaptation of the Gorky play.
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Overview

Special Features

  • The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds): New digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds): Introduction to the film by Jean Renoir
  • The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds): New and improved English subtitle translation
  • The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds): Optimal image quality - RSDL dual-layer edition
  • The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds): A new essay by film scholar Alexander Sesonske, author of Jean Renoir: The French Films 1924-1939
  • The Lower Depths (Donzoko): New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • The Lower Depths (Donzoko): Audio commentary featuring Japanese-film expert Donald Richie, author of A Hundred Years of Japanese Film
  • The Lower Depths (Donzoko): A 33-minute documentary on The Lower Depths from the series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, including interviews with Kurosawa, actress Kyoko Kagawa, art director Yoshiro Muraki, and others
  • The Lower Depths (Donzoko): Cast biographies by Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa
  • The Lower Depths (Donzoko): New and improved English subtitle translation by world-renowned translator of Japanese films Linda Hoaglund
  • The Lower Depths (Donzoko): Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
  • The Lower Depths (Donzoko): A new essay by authors Keiko McDonald (From Book to Screen: Modern Japanese Literature in Films) and Thomas Rimer (A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature)

Synopsis

Les Bas-Fonds
Voted 1936's best picture by a circle of prestigious French critics, Jean Renoir's The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds) is based on the "gutter" play by Russian author Maxim Gorky. Louis Jouvet plays The Baron, forced by circumstance to give up his life of luxury and to set up residence in the slums of Paris. As Jouvet observes the passing parade, he bears witness to the frustrated romance between Jean Gabin and Junie Astor, the thwarted dreams of actor Robert Le Vigan, and the oppressive cruelties of landlord Vladimir Sokoloff. The Lower Depths surprised Renoir's admirers, who weren't used to seeing the director involve himself in so sordid and depressing a tale. Actually, the project was brought to Renoir by a producer friend of his, who secured the director's services by promising to provide Louis Jouvet and Jean Gabin as the leading actors. Renoir's The Lower Depths would make a fascinating companion piece to Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's 1957 adaptation of the same Gorky play. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Lower Depths
Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa transferred the setting of Maxim Gorky's play The Lower Depths from Imperial Russia to his own country's Edo Period--which, like Gorky's 19th-century setting, was an era of great cultural advances, offset by the miseries of those who weren't in the aristocracy. Kurosawa's film concentrates on Toshiro Mifune, playing a crooked gambler who falls in love with the sister (Kyoko Kagawa) of his cruel landlady (Isuzu Yamada). Herself carrying a torch for Mifune, the landlady exacts a roundabout revenge by killing her own husband and pinning the blame on the gambler. As the landlady descends into madness, those whom she has treated wretchedly laugh at her plight. Originally titled Donzoko, The Lower Depths was renamed Les Bas-Fonds for its French release--the same title bestowed upon Jean Renoir's 1937 adaptation of the Gorky play. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Jean Gabin
    Jean Gabin - Wasska Pepel
  • Louis Jouvet
    Louis Jouvet - The Baron
  • Suzy Prim
    Suzy Prim - Vassilissa
  • Image coming soon
    Jany Holt - Nastia
  • Image coming soon
    Junie Astor - Natacha
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