One of the most iconic heroes in film history takes center stage this week in our Criterion Channel presentation of Japan’s longest-running action series. The legendary Zatoichi films follow a blind masseur (Shintaro Katsu) who also happens to be an incomparable swordsman, chronicling his travels as he roams from town to town meting out justice. The inspiration for the blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) in Rogue One, this charismatic dynamo propels the twenty-five films in the series, which were made between 1962 and 1973 and are included in our massive edition in glorious digital restorations. Among the must-see supplements are an interview with Asian-film expert Tony Rayns and a 1978 documentary about Katsu, who portrayed Zatoichi through the entire length of the series and directed the twenty-fourth installment.
Also up this week on FilmStruck: a short-and-feature pairing that takes us out to sea, a meticulously crafted thriller by Brian De Palma, and two provocative masterworks from Lars von Trier’s early career.
This week, we’re bringing together two very different—but equally dazzling—visions of the life aquatic. Jean Painlevé’s mesmerizing short The Sea Horse (1933), a fourteen-minute science film that goes below the surface of the sea to glimpse the strange world of the titular creature, sets the stage for Jean Vigo’s timeless masterpiece L’Atalante (1934), an intoxicating love story that takes place aboard a run-down river barge on the Seine.
A conspiracy thriller for the ages, Brian De Palma’s 1981 masterpiece features dazzling stylistic flourishes and John Travolta in one of his most memorable performances. The movie hits the Channel alongside all of the supplemental features from our release, including an hour-long interview with De Palma conducted by filmmaker Noah Baumbach, and De Palma’s 1967 feature Murder à la Mod, which makes a cameo appearance in a scene in Blow Out.
This double bill features the bookends of Lars von Trier’s Europa trilogy: the expressionist mystery The Element of Crime (1984), which marked von Trier’s debut as a feature-film director, and the Kafkaesque Europa (1991), a portrait of a strangely futuristic Frankfurt in the aftermath of World War II.