Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fixing the IMDB

As anyone who's more than a casual fan of Japanese cinema knows, the Internet Movie Database has always been a notoriously unreliable source for information on films never released on video in the US. This is particularly the case with older Japanese films, what with their hard-to-type-in-transliterated-English titles and lack of good archival resources in any language other than Japanese.

But after a chance meeting with an IMDB chieftain at a film festival recently, I'm happy to say that the eight films in the currently-running Nikkatsu Action series are currently being updated on the IMDB to include their English titles, original Japanese poster images, and more. The process is happening in the background at the IMDB site, but many of the titles already have the posters up and other fixes should be happening soon.

The biggest problem among the eight titles, though, was the reason I spoke to Mr. IMDB in the first place. For many years, there's been a major error on the film page for Yasuharu Hasebe's 1969 film ARAKURE (aka ROUGHNECK), starring Akira Kobayashi. For some reason, the film was confused at some point with Hasebe's film KOIKI BORYOKU: RYUKETSU NO SHIMA, also made in 1969 and also starring Kobayashi (it was released a month after ARAKURE, in fact). This latter film, released on DVD in the US by Home Vision under the title BLOODY TERRITORIES, is a good yakuza action pic, but very different from ARAKURE, which has never had any sort of release outside of Japan. Complicating the matter even further is the fact that there's a Naruse film from 1957 also called ARAKURE!

One of the difficulties in booking the Nikkatsu Action series stemmed from the fact that many cinematheque programmers thought that ARAKURE had already been released on DVD in the US, confusing it with BLOODY TERRITORIES. I'd tried to make the fix on the IMDB via their regular "contact us" procedure, but nothing was ever done. So imagine my relief when I was introduced to Mr. IMDB recently, and I could finally correct this error.

So now we can proudly say - and have the IMDB bear it out - that none of the titles in this series have ever been released on DVD in the US.


Anonymous kevin said...

I used to send updates to IMDb constantly but I eventually got frustrated with the process because while they'd pretty much add new things quickly they'd hardly ever correct wrong info that was already posted or merge duplicate names, etc. Edits that never get posted really make you wonder why you'd bother spending the time to add other stuff.

I honestly think the closed database way of doing things is over and the only reason they stay afloat is that they gained their supreme authority status in the pre-wiki days.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

I echo Kevin's frustration with IMDb. Over the years I've tried updating their database with the correct information about many Japanese films and my efforts are most often ignored. I don't really understand how they decide what to add, change, etc. according to the submissions they receive, but I wish the process was better managed.

2:26 PM  

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