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The Inland Sea Criterion Blu-ray Review


“The Inland Sea” could have used more content.

In 1971 author Donald Richie penned a book about his travels through Japan. In 1991 director Lucille Carra made a documentary film based off of Richie’s novel that also happens to be written and narrated by Richie himself. The basic premise of this film (and Richie’s own work) is that he is attempting to get to the heart of Japan and its people while also trying to find himself. The answer, as he believes, lies in the inland sea.

At a scant 56 minutes, the somewhat obscure “The Inland Sea” feels a bit undercooked. While Lucille Carra and cinematographer Hiro Narita do a fair amount of exploration of Japan by showcasing nature, bodies of water, wildlife, coffee shops, shrines, temples, cities, a leper colony, human connections, culture, ruins, seaweed, and so on, you’re left wanting more than just visuals accompanying Richie’s often poetic words. Granted, there are a few short interviews with the likes of a Japanese Monk, but they’re too short and lacking depth. For a story that is about seeking answers, one would think there would be more attempts at learning about the people that make up Japan. Essentially, the movie only scrapes the surface of the subject and of Richie’s own work and is in need of being expanded upon.

The real MVP of the film is cinematographer Hiro Narita whose glorious visuals elevate this documentary/travelogue/video diary/visual essay or whatever you’d like to classify it as. As personal and descriptive as the talented Richie’s words may be, seeing the lay of the land and observing the evolution of Japan really enhances the overall experience.


Presentation: 1.66:1 1080p. How does it look? This is a quality 4K digital transfer that really shines during shots of the picturesque locals.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? A standard Mono track that does job. No more, no less.

* A booklet with an essay by Arturo Silva
* A newly shot 17 minute interview with director Lucille Carra in which she talks about working with Toho, how “The Inland Sea” came about, Japan, Donald Richie, the poetic nature of the film, etc.
* A nearly 15 minute sit-down interview with director Paul Schrader and cultural critic Ian Buruma who talk about Donald Richie.
* A 1991 10 ½ minute interview with Donald Richie filmed by Lucille Carra herself who discusses the novel he wrote, Japan, and more.


August 10, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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