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America As Seen by a Frenchman & The Mad Fox on Blu-ray in June

21 March 2020

Arrow Academy’s June releases are an extraordinary documentary on the US, and a world Blu-ray debut for a lavish Japanese epic. The discs come with numerous extras including collector’s booklets, brand new artwork, documentaries and video appreciations.

First in June is America As Seen by a Frenchman, by celebrated French documentarian François Reichenbach, who spent eighteen months travelling the United States, documenting its diverse regions, their inhabitants and their pastimes. The result, is a wide-eyed – perhaps even naïve – journey through a multitude of different Americas, filtered through a French sensibility and serving as a fascinating exploration of a culture that is both immediately familiar and thoroughly alien.

Also in June is The Mad Fox, from visionary master director Tomu Uchida, who took inspiration from Bunraku and kabuki theater for arguably his strangest and most lavishly cinematic film. Finally available outside Japan for the first time, Uchida’s stunning, wildly stylised widescreen tableaux – using expressionist sets and colour schemes – are highlighted in a world premiere Blu-ray release, presented in a brand new restoration, with a new audio commentary.

 

America as Seen by a Frenchman

America As Seen by a Frenchman (1960) | Blu-ray | 1 June 2020 | £24.99

At the end of the 1950s, celebrated French documentarian François Reichenbach (F for Fake, Portrait: Orson Welles), whose lens captured the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Johnny Hallyday, spent eighteen months travelling the United States, documenting its diverse regions, their inhabitants and their pastimes. The result, America As Seen by a Frenchman, is a wide-eyed – perhaps even naïve – journey through a multitude of different Americas, filtered through a French sensibility and serving as a fascinating exploration of a culture that is both immediately familiar and thoroughly alien.

Prison rodeos; Miss America pageants; visits to Disneyland and a school for striptease; a town inhabited solely by twins; rows of newborns in incubators, like products on an assembly line – all these weird and wondrous sights, and more, are captured, sans jugement, by Reichenbach’s camera, aided by whimsical narration (provided by, among others, Jean
Cocteau) and a jaunty musical score by the late, great Michel Legrand (Une femme est une femme).

Titled L’Amérique insolite – literally “unusual America” – in its native tongue, America As Seen by a Frenchman lovingly renders the various eccentricities of Americana circa the mid- twentieth century, and proves the old adage that reality really is stranger than fiction.

Blu-ray contents:

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • New video appreciation of the film by author and critic Philip Kemp
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius
    Fitzpatrick
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Caspar Salmon

 

The Mad Fox Blu-ray cover art

The Mad Fox | Blu-Ray | 22 June 2020 | £24.99

In stark contrast to the monochrome naturalism of his earlier masterwork Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji [Koiya koi nasuna koi], visionary master director Tomu Uchida took inspiration from Bunraku and kabuki theater for arguably his strangest and most lavishly cinematic film, The Mad Fox.

Amidst a mythically-depicted medieval Japan, a court astrologer foretells a great disturbance that threatens to split the realm in two. His bitter and treacherous wife conspires to have the astrologer killed, as well as their adopted daughter, Sakaki. The astrologer’s master apprentice, Yasuna, who was in love with Sakaki, is driven mad with grief and escapes to the countryside. There, he encounters Sakiki’s long-lost twin, Kuzunoha, and the pair meet a pack of ancient fox spirits in the woods, whose presence may be the key to restoring Yasuna’s sanity, and in turn bringing peace to the fracturing nation.

Finally available outside Japan for the first time, Uchida’s stunning, wildly stylised widescreen tableaux – using expressionist sets and colour schemes – are highlighted in a world premiere Blu-ray release.

Blu-ray contents:

  • Brand new restoration by Toei
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono Japanese audio
  • Optional newly translated English subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, recorded exclusively for this release
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ronald Cavaye and Hayley Scanlon