Horus, Prince of the Sun - France Deluxe DVD

Now this is how you bring Horus to DVD. This is a release worthy of the revolutionary film. Everybody else is officially put on notice.

Currently, Horus is only available ouside of Japan in Portugal, the UK and France. The UK release is a threadbare affair, only a single disc and no extras save the movie trailer. And it's slapped with that asinine slur, "The Little Norse Prince." It's one saving grace is that it includes English subtitles, but they're very poor subs and they're far below the level of the Horus fansub we all know and love.

Thank goodness the French show some proper respect. It helps greatly that Isao Takahata is recognized as a great film artist in France. Takahata has made numerous appearances for lectures and honoers, most of his films are available on DVD (Jarinko Chie was given a small theatrical release last year), and a documentary film on his career will see release this summer. Given all that, it makes perfect sense that Horus is treated so well on DVD.

The French DVDs were released in 2004, both a single and double disc set. The deluxe version includes an hour's worth of documentaries, interviews with Isao Takahata and Yoichi Kotabe, a karaoke mode, interactive DVD-ROM features, and a 24-page book. This is comparable treatment to The Criterion Collection, and, frankly, this is precisely how all of Takahata and Miyazaki's films should be handled.

Now here's where it gets interesting. The photo I posted above apparantly comes from a new re-release. This French retail site says this new version was released in October, 2008. You can pick this up for 15 Euros if you're so inclined.

What's weird is that only a couple sites show this package; it certainly is new, but most retailers use the old cover. As far as content goes, I have nothing to go on. I haven't found any information, so at this point I'll assume that it's the same extra features as the previous DVD. It would be great if the picture was properly remastered, since this was originally a single-layer disc from 2000. All of the classic Toei films are in desperate need of a proper restoration.

In any case, the design of the cover is so striking that I couldn't pass it up. It's very flashy and modern, and hues very close to the original movie poster from Japan. This is miles better than dreck like this, and certainly better than the crummy DVD that was swept under the rug in Britain.

Is there anybody out there with information about this DVD? Anybody in France? C'mon, Pixar, pretty please - send one of your gophers out to investigate. I don't want anyone to miss the movies and parties on my behalf, but this really couldn't take that much time. Hah hah hah...yeah, like it's that important. But I'm just really, really nosey about things.


asuka said...

ha! they went for "horus".
you can clear this up for me: i had got the impression from reading an interview sometime that "horus" was not necessarily the intended form of the name.

Svetlana said...

It was also licensed in Russia under the title "Prince of the North".

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Yes, you're correct about the name. Takahata intended his film to be an adaptation of a puppet play about Japan's indigenous Ainu, called, "The Sun Over Chikisan." I think that's the name - I'll check up on the specifics.

Toei objected to the title and subject matter. They didn't believe audiences would go for such a movie, so the names were scrubbed and the setting changed from Japan to a vague European location. Scandanavia is the most commonly assumed place, but I've read accounts that Takahata had eastern Europe in mind. It's tough to say until someone gets a hold of some memoirs and such.

As for the names, there was no agenda or hidden meaning involved. They just picked names that sounded good. The themes of the oppressed Ainu, of course, remained, and were broadened to include the Vietnam War, the free speech movements, civil rights movements, yadda yadda.

Thanks for mentioning Horus' Russian title.

asuka said...

hey, at least in the u.k. they got a release of hols, even if it's not the ideal release. and they also got a release of only yesterday, and i think they are going to get a release of ocean waves before long. the u.s.a. should be so lucky!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Very good news for the Brits on the Ghibli films, but their Horus DVD gets a thumbs down. When there's a superior fansub available for free, what's the use?

Simply slapping a movie on disc with inadequate subtitles, no extras, and THE WRONG TITLE is simply not acceptable.

On a brighter note, it would be great to see Ocean Waves exported around the world. It's an excellent production and Ghibli Freaks everywhere should love it.

yaffle said...

I'm in the UK, we had the treat of a late night double-bill of Only Yesterday and The Little Norse Prince (as it is called here) on TV several months ago, admittedly it was shoved in a late night slot, but it was a great chance to see those two films (subbed), they're certainly among my favourites now.

Great blog by the way.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

That's terrific news - I'm glad to hear it. Oh, btw, your head's on fire. :P

Frisenette said...

I'm beginning to think the dude who wrote an article saying that Miyazaki (and Takahata in this case) made his (their) best work in the early days was at least partially right.

Having seen Hols/Horus, the three WMT TV series, Panda GoPanda, Conan, the Lupin III episodes and Castle of Cagliostro, they have a quality, freshness and spirit either lacking or subdued in the later films.

Don't get me wrong. I love the 80's and 90's Ghibli (although I actually don't like Spirited Away that much), but It feels like those movies are in many ways retreading the ground of the earlier work, compressing some ideas and merely regurgitating others watering them down in the process...

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I'm personally of the belief that Heidi Marco Anne was Takahata and Miyazaki's best work. This takes nothing away from the greatness of the Ghibli films. I think they're all masterful, every last one. I'm just saying that Heidi Marco Anne is just that much better.

It's a matter of long novels and short stories. The Ghibli movies are masterful short stories, perfectly condensed and packed with the same spirit and humanity as seen in Heidi and Marco and Anne, the great epic novels.

For any American Ghibli Freak, this can only be a good thing, because most have only seen the Ghibli movies that are available here on DVD. They have yet to discover the works of the 1960s and 1970s. Hopefully, they shall. I've been playing my small part; hopefully it will help make a difference.

Adam M Mason said...

Sooo... Does the French DVD have English subtitles? I doubt it but might as well ask...

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I'm afraid not. None of the French Ghibli DVDs include English subtitles, and it's a shame because they've released just about everything from the Takahata-Miyazaki canon.

The UK DVD is currently the only "official" version of Horus to contain English subtitles. However, this version omits quite a lot of dialog, and all of the songs, which is somewhat frustrating.

The fansub version remains the best way for English-speaking people to see this movie. And, yes, I'm still waiting for a) an official Horus DVD in the States, and b) Toei to release their animation classics on Blu-Ray. Astounding that their "Disney" period - Toei's golden age - has been swept under the rug.

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