Of Flesh and Blood The Cinema of Hirokazu Koreeda
Filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda started his career in the world of television from 1987, from assistant director on various variety shows to eventually creating some well received documentaries for television in the early 1990s. His career in fiction filmmaking as a director started in 1995 and since then he has made thirteen features which from his debut onward have received high acclaim from critics and festivals, with his stature only growing in status as one of the greatest Japanese filmmakers working today, if not in all of Japanese cinema.

His dealings with family, blood ties, societal woes, children, life, and death through matters of everyday life and everyday people resonated with audiences worldwide, bringing an emotional depth with each of his works. He has worked in the genres of the samurai film, courtroom drama, and fantasy, but he is best known for his family dramas that evoke the works of Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse, and Ken Loach while adding a personal touch that makes them quite his own. His films were not always box office successes as the personal and low key dramas were not made to be blockbusters, but his more recent works have been very successful financially at the Japanese cinemas and his past films continue to be rewatched and rediscovered by new fans.

The four films included in Of Flesh and Blood: The Cinema of Hirokazu Koreeda celebrate the richness, diversity, beauty and humanity of the director’s work and are essential viewing for fans of contemporary world cinema.

4xBD50 | 1080p AVC | 484 min | 149.5 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Genre: Drama

One of Koreeda’s earliest films, Maborosi is a sensitive depiction of depression, and the impact suicide has on the ones left behind. It’s a simple enough premise, which Koreeda manages to make uplifting in a non-saccharine way. It’s spiritual without being cheesy, and sad without being too heavy.

Yumiko is a young mother in her twenties that is suddenly widowed when her husband Ikuo is hit by a train one evening. The sudden and unexplained loss takes a toll on her life which was not exactly on the positive side, but with help from her mother and others she is able to have an arranged marriage with Tamio, a fellow widower. Moving to a coastal village, she looks to have a new life as a new wife and continue as a mother, but her past and trauma continues to haunt her rather than being able to find true happiness.

After Life. It’s a spiritual, life affirming meditation on memories, which promotes the idea that death is just another part of life.

Heavily influenced by Frank Capra and Ernst Lubitsch, this is a fantasy told in Koreeda’s realistic style, where the afterlife is represented as an old office building, where a small devoted team of ‘social workers’ help the recently deceased reach the next plane of existence by identifying their favourite memory – which they can then relive for eternity. It’s a sweet, innocent film that’s charming without being twee, and it’s the best demonstration of Koreeda’s inherent humanity.

The jewel in the crown of this set is the heartbreaking Nobody Knows.
Abandoned by their mother, four children try to forge a life within the confines of a small Tokyo apartment. Devising their own set of rules, the children find a way to sustain themselves until they must face the harsh reality of the outside world.

Based on the 1988 Sugamo Child Abandonment Case, it’s a film that combines gentle humour and nicely observed heartwarming family scenes with some utterly devastating moments.

Still Walking is a much lighter film, following a day in the life of a family, as they gather together to commemorate the death of the eldest son. Japanese culture looms large in this one, as the younger son clashes with his father over his chosen career, and his new wife navigates the family’s idiosyncrasies.

If you’ve never seen a Koreeda film before, this is probably the best place to start. It’s very similar in tone to his later film, Like Father Like Son; Still Walking is a gentle, poignant film that never outstays it’s welcome.

Special features include commentaries by various critics and writers, an interview with the director filmed at the BFI London Film Festival, and various Making Of Documentaries, Interviews, Deleted Scenes, Trailers and Still Galleries.

Download Of Flesh and Blood: The Cinema of Hirokazu Koreeda: Maboroshi no hikari / Illusion / Maborosi (1995), Wandafuru raifu / Wonderful Life / After Life (1998), Dare mo shiranai / Nobody Knows (2004), Aruitemo aruitemo / Still Walking (2008) 4 x Blu-Ray British Film Institute: