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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 86 minutes, three featurettes, director interview, audio commentary, music video, original trailer, Tartan Asia Extreme previews

STUDIO: Tartan/ Kaijyu Theater

RELEASE DATE: 1-24-2006

VITAL is unique. It is light years ahead of TETSUO: THE IRON MAN. It is the kind of film that makes me wonder what Shinya Tsukamoto would do if he directed an adaptation of SOLARIS. VITAL is a very human film as Tsukamoto looks at death and the people who are left behind. Hiroshi Takagi (Tadanobu Asano) enrolls into a medical school after surviving an auto accident. Hiroshi has no memory as a result of the auto accident which claimed the life of his girlfriend, Ryoko (Nami Tsukamoto- no relation to the director). At medical school, he catches the eye of Izumi (Kiki), a fellow student which he seems first to spurn and sometimes just ignores. In dissection class, the body he dissects happens to be the body of Ryoko. He starts to have memories of his life with Ryoko and then has moments with her that seem so real. Is she connecting with Hiroshi from beyond death?

VITAL is a statement and an exploration of life and how we relate to it. Writer/Director Shinya Tsukamoto looks at life in the city of Tokyo. I like how the director and the lead actor (Asano) show how disconnected Hiroshi feels. TETSUO deals with the loss of humanity while VITAL deals with a man regaining his humanity after losing everything. So VITAL is the opposite of TETSUO where Tsukamoto as he is trying to say how beautiful life is and yet we all will die one day.

VIDEO: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Another nice transfer from Tartan. Great image detail, colors, and shadow values.

AUDIO: Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Surround, Japanese 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English

Dialogue and sound are clear. Subtitles are a nice translation and easy to read.


A better selection of extras for VITAL than the ones done for the TETSUO: THE IRON MAN.

THE MAKING OF VITAL is a look at the production of VITAL and the 30th birthday of the lead actor.

BEHIND THE SCENES: VENICE FILM FESTIVAL WORLD PREMIERE shows footage of the lead actor, the two leading ladies, and the director during their stay in Venice including the world premiere of VITAl.

Also among the extras are the original theatrical trailer and an interview with director Tsukamoto who explains what research he did and what made him come up with the idea for VITAL (very cheery guy who thinks everyone should see a dead body). The music video is something that can be skipped while the SPECIAL EFFECTS featurette has Hisashi Oda about making the fake dead bodies for VITAL.

The audio commentary for VITAL is by author Tom Mes, a guy who wrote a book on the director. It is one of the better film scholar commentaries I have heard. He discusses the themes in the director's films, the film itself, and a little about Japan. He also gives some details on the production itself (and he even witnessed some of the filming of VITAL).

FINAL ANLYSIS: VITAL is a beautiful visual emotional film. It is the polar opposite of TETSUO and more open to people wanting to discover director Shinya Tsukamoto.

Related DVD Review:

TETSUO: THE IRON MAN- http://enterline2.tripod.com/tetsuo.html

this review is (c)7-1-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com