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Angles offers commentary on DVD of Japanese film

July 2, 2007

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University assistant professor is featured in the audio commentary of the digital release of a classic Japanese movie, which is part of a prestigious collection of new releases of classic international films.

Dr. Jeffrey Angles, who heads WMU's Japanese program, provides the voice-over commentary to the Criterion Collection's release of Kenji Mizoguchi's film "Sansho the Bailiff," a moving tale of a mother separated from her children and sold into slavery in medieval Japan.

The Criterion Collection is the United States' most prestigious distributor of foreign and independent films, cleaning up images, digitally mastering classic works and providing extra features such as award-winning, original supplements. Angles' running commentary is featured throughout the more than two-hour film, a feat that required an enormous amout of preparation. He also contributed to an 80-page booklet included in the box set with the film.

"Usually when Criterion Collection releases a film, it becomes the standard version of that film. The Criterion Collection's excellent and high quality productions always set the standard for the industry," Angles says. "The film is based on a famous Japanese legend. The legend was written into a novel, and the novel made into a film. In the commentary, I talked about the differences in these various versions and the cinematic techniques the director, Mizoguchi, used in bringing them to the screen."

Angles was picked for the project after producers heard him speak on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" in September 2006 about a book he co-edited. That work, "Japan: A Traveler's Literary Guide," is a collection of Japanese short stories and essays. Angles also is editing a book about the history of the Sansho the Bailiff legend.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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