The brief but prodigious career of Japanese director Sadao Yamanaka resulted in a catalogue of work characterised by an elegant and unforced visual style, fluid editing, and a beautiful attention to naturalistic performances. Although he made 22 films over a six-year period (before dying of dysentery in a Japanese Imperial Army outpost in Manchuria at the age of 28), only three of them survive, collected here for the first time in the West.
Tange Sazen: The Million Ryô Pot is a gloriously comic adventure yarn as the titular one-eyed, one-armed swordsman becomes embroiled in the hunt for a missing pot that points the way to hidden treasure. In Kôchiyama Sôshun, a subversively humanistic adaptation of a classic kabuki play, a small but invaluable knife stolen from a samurai leads to a chain of an increasingly complex and troublesome set of circumstances. His last film, Humanity and Paper Balloons, is an unsparing ensemble drama set among the lowest rungs of Japanese society in the 18th century.
The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka will be released as a long awaited 2-disc DVD set by Eureka as part of the Masters of Cinema series at the RRP of £24.99.
Featuring new digital transfers of all three films and new English subtitle translations, the set will have these extras:
Rare fragments of other lost Yamanaka films
A lengthy booklet, including Yamanaka's will, excerpts from his diaries, essays by Tony Rayns, Shinji Aoyama, Kimitoshi Satô, and more
More extras to be announced closer to release date
You can read our review of the 2005 Masters of Cinema DVD release of Humanity and Paper Balloons here.