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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Shape of Night (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A young woman who works in a factory by day and at a bar at night is coerced into prostitution by her violent yakuza boyfriend.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A product of the Japanese New Wave, Nakamura Noboru’s The Shape of Night follows the story of a young woman from the Japanese countryside, Yoshie (Kuwano Miyuki), who works in a factory by day and moonlights as a bartender at night. She falls for the smooth-talking regular Eiji (Hira Mikijirô) who takes her out on a date. Soon, Eiji turns violent and pressures her into prostitution. He is connected to the yakuza, and when she tries to run away from him, his yakuza bosses violently bring her back and force her into a life of walking the streets. There she finds a regular customer who claims to be in love with her and want to marry her.

The Shape of Night is tragedy under the neon lights of Japan. Nakamura uses the camera and the vivid colors not to paint a happy picture, but to ensnare Yoshie in the horrific life she cannot seem to escape. Long bars of light drape across bodies like a metaphorical prison. This is classic technique from film noir deployed by cinematographer Narushima Tôichirô, who also gives us plenty of low angle and off kilter shots, and colorful contrast in the shadows. The film is a melancholic tone poem of sex, violence, and despair in the new post-war order of Japan. And one that needs to be rediscovered.

Purchase The Shape of Night (Limited Edition) Blu-ray on Amazon.com

  • The Shape of Night (1964)
  • The Shape of Night (1964)
  • The Shape of Night (1964)
  • The Shape of Night (1964)
  • The Shape of Night (1964)
  • The Shape of Night (1964)
  • The Shape of Night (1964)
  • The Shape of Night (Radiance_RAD052BLE)
  • The Shape of Night (Radiance_RAD052BLE)
  • The Shape of Night (Radiance_RAD052BLE)

The Video

The Shape of Night is a high-definition digital transfer presented in 2.35:1 AVC 1080p on Blu-ray from Radiance. This is the worldwide Blu-ray premiere, so the best the film has ever looked on home video. Image stability is excellent, particularly as compared to the Radiance release of the The Bounty Hunter Trilogy, which suffered a bit from stability issues concerning flicker. Here, the contrast, black levels, and brightness are stable, and the grain looks natural and consistent. Detail is good, with fine textures, but the biggest strength is the color vibrancy in this transfer. The primaries in the neon signage, or the look of a match being lit look very enticing.

The Audio

The original Japanese mono mix is provided in LPCM 2.0. Apart from being a bit narrow in range and having some very slight clipping it is about as good as it can be for a Japanese film from this era and is satisfying.

The Supplements

There are only two on-disc extras but there are good ones and the booklet offers a good read on the film as well.

Bonus Features:

  • Limited edition booklet featuring new writing by Chuck Stephens
  • Limited edition of 3000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings
  • Yoshio Nakamura (1080p; 00:15:44) – The son of director Noboru Nakamura reminisces about his father, the man and the filmmaker. Shot exclusively for Radiance Filoms in January 2024.
  • Major Changes: Shochiku in the 1960s (1080p; 00:13:15) — Visual essay on the artistic upheavals at Shochiku studios during the 1960s by Tom Mes

The Final Assessment

The Shape of Night has the visual style and emotional weight that Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai has come to be known for, only, this is well before Wong held his first camera, and was likely an influence on Wong. Anyone who loves classic Japanese cinema should add this to their film library. Radiance has resurrected another magnificent film for home video.

The Shape of Night (Limited Edition) is out on Blu-ray April 30, 2024, from Radiance

Purchase The Shape of Night (Limited Edition) Blu-ray on Amazon.com

  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: Shochiku | Radiance
  • Director: Nakamura Noboru
  • Written By: Gondo Toshidi | Ohta Kyoko
  • Run Time: 109 Mins.
  • Street Date: 30 April 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English

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A young woman who works in a factory by day and at a bar at night is coerced into prostitution by her violent yakuza boyfriend.The Shape of Night (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)