Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto


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Hiroshi Inagaki's acclaimed Samurai Trilogy is based on the novel that has been called Japan's Gone with the Wind. This sweeping saga of the legendary seventeenth-century samurai Musashi Miyamoto (powerfully portrayed by Toshiro Mifune) plays out against the turmoil of a devastating civil war. The Trilogy follows Musashi's odyssey from unruly youth to enlightened warrior. In the first part, Musashi Miyamoto, the hero's dreams of military glory end in betrayal, defeat, and a fugitive lifestyle. But he is saved by a woman who loves him and a cunning priest who guides him to the samurai path. This installment won the 1955 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Film.

Picture 4/10

Criterion’s DVD releases for Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai trilogy rank among their worst, each disc getting progressively worse. The first part, Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-layer disc.

As I mentioned it is a lousy looking image. The print isn’t in the best shape, presenting plenty of marks, debris, lines, and many other issues. This is probably the least of the image’s problems, though. The image looks highly compressed, presenting plenty of artifacts, halos, edge-enhancement, and at times it looks like objects are floating off of the screen. Colours look lousy, though do look better than the other films. There’s an overall greenish/yellow hue. Blacks are too dark and night scenes are near impossible to see.

It’s lousy overall, but sadly looks the best of the three titles.

Audio 3/10

All three releases are about the same audio wise. The Japanese mono tracks are weak and sound fairly compressed. Music is edgy and bland, and sound effects, specifically in action scenes, lack any real power. It’s just another bland aspect to these bland releases.

Extras 1/10

This is bare bones. You get a theatrical trailer and an essay by Bruce Eder.


Criterion’s releases for the Samurai trilogy rank among their worst titles. They look and sound awful, and sadly this one is probably the best of the set. The DVDs were originally sold separately but were rereleased together in a boxset with slightly different cover art. Unfortunately they didn’t do anything else with it and the discs themselves are the same. As a whole they're an aggravating set of releases.


Directed by: Hiroshi Inagaki
Year: 1954
Time: 93 min.
Series: The Criterion Collection
Edition #: 14
Licensor: Toho Co.
Release Date: May 18 2004
MSRP: $29.95
1 Disc | DVD-5
1.33:1 ratio
Region 1
 Original theatrical trailer   Insert featuring an essay by Bruce Eder