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Eclectic DVD presents
The Dream of Garuda (Karura no yume) (1994)

"Wash me. Until my skin glows."
- Ikuo

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 04, 2002

Director: Zeze Takahisa

Manufacturer: LMW
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, violence, rape)
Run Time: 00h:54m:53s
Release Date: February 05, 2002
UPC: 022891103622
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C-D+B- C-

DVD Review

In the ancient Hindu and Buddhist folklore, Garuda is a giant bird deity who, after years of deceitful life as a god of the lower heavens, redeemed himself and freed his mother from slavery. He is the mount of Vishnu, the god who brings peace and an end to suffering.

After being sent to prison for raping a young woman, Ikuo becomes bent on revenge and finding her upon his release years later. His obsession is overwhelming, to the point where he sees her face on every person he meets. Out of touch with reality, he viciously lashes out at the world around him, including a young girl and a prostitute, before finally discovering his victim.

Mieko is now living with his former best friend, Tomimori, who is acting as her pimp. Confronted with his past, he now finds himself unable to live without her. Discovering she is working in the bathhouses of the soaplands—where, because of the illegality of prostitution, men hire women to bathe them fully naked, with sex on the side—he begins a ritualistic cleansing of his sins through her services, believing only she can set him free. When Mieko tells him that she wishes to be free of Tomimori, Ikuo's actions will set about an irreversible chain of events.

The Dream of Garuda is an hauntingly ethereal example of Japanese Pink Cinema, fusing artistic surrealism with the erotic trappings of soft-core pornography. The style is disorienting and often abstract, with some notable use of wide angle and long shots. Lighting is often extreme, either in darkness or overly bright scenes. The story relies as much on symbolism as narrative, and the overall impression of this dark erotic thriller is fairly unsettling. The rather extreme violence that bookends the film is offset by the rhythmic central bathing sequence, where Mieko methodically massages and washes Ikuo's naked body with her own. While it does contain numerous sex scenes, most have disturbing overtones. While it did have some interesting and memorable cinematography, I did not find this at all enjoyable to watch.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Shot on low grade film, the image here isn't helped by its low resolution presentation. Colors are okay, but things are often murky and indistinct. Many scenes are too dark to discern what is going on. There is a lot of interlace artifacting, bleeding, and visible blocking. Grain is abundant, and not rendered well. This is a digital equivalent of video tape. Subtitles are burnt in.

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is reasonbly well presented, with only occasional distortion present. Frequency coverage is average. There is some location noise, but the audio aspect of the release is passable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Bedroom, Pervirella, Tandem
Packaging: unknown keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. History of Pink Cinema
  2. Still gallery
Extras Review: Menus are painfully slow to navigate. Extras include a filmography for director Zeze Takahisa, a still gallery of 10 images, an overview of the Pink movement, and a history of Pink Cinema.

Trailers for The Bedroom, Pervirella and Tandem are included, along with a listing of PAL VHS releases.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

The Dream of Garuda had some interesting visuals and cinematic style, but its disjointed story was aggravated by a very poor reproduction here, making it more confusing than it already is. Had this had a better presentation, I might have been more interested, but I found its violent elements unappealing, and while soap fetishists might have a field day, the frequent bathing scenes wore thin quickly.


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