Sukaiwaka Fortress, TheFeatured
- To rename major characters and places with starwarsian names: Princess Reia, General Kenobi, Atu, Situri, and more
- To make the edit family-friendly by removing a questionable scene and all curse words, and by rewriting dialogue for certain scenes
- To repurpose select dialogue from Star Wars
- And to improve the story’s pacing.
The Empire Strikes Back—Imperial Audiophile Edition by ABC
Distant Heavy Waterfall sound effect from freesfx.co.uk
Thanks also to addiesin, thecuddlyninja, dangermouse, DigModiFicaTion, DominicCobb, Dwight Fry, Flixcapacitor, JJE-187, Kal-El, Slart, Spaced Ranger, TMBTM, TM2YC, TV’s Frink, Ugetsu, Vultural, yo_yojimbo.
And to Kurosawa Akira, George Lucas, and John Williams for all the amazing movies and music.
- Commentary track
- music from Star Wars Episodes I, IV, V, VI, VII
- 44 new subtitles, generally to add Star Wars flavor
- custom title screen and end credits
- 217 subtitles, generally to add Star Wars flavor but also to make the edit more family-friendly
- full names presented surname first
- several scenes of climbing and descending hills
- bickering in the ditch
- bits of overacting
- parts of the spear fight
- discussion of violating the princess
- any singing beyond the fire festival
- serial horseback arrivals to the overlook
'"Yib Nub" echoes in my mind.'
This is not an easy thing to pull off. Take a classic - arguably untouchable - (in mono) and rescore it with Star Wars, change character names and subtitles, make it family friendly, maintain the narrative, make it feel new and yet familiar.... The editor succeeds in all these things, resulting in what is hands down one of my favourite fanedits to date.
Aside: The funny thing about fanedits is you forget they're not normal. I had two very confused people walk in during my viewing and they just couldn't understand why they were hearing Star Wars music and seeing an old, black and white, Japanese film. One even asked: "what episode is this?"
Video - Exellent quality. No noticeable transitions.
Audio - Very well done. I'm often very suspicious of rescoring since it's so easy to get wrong. The levels need to be just right otherwise it can be incredibly distracting. Ssj did an absolutely wonderful job. The choices of score were perfect 99% of the time (the 1% being a subjective quibble not worth mentioning), and the levels were just right for me, blending perfectly with the film. There were a couple of points where the film audio dropped out leaving just music, but it was a rare occurrence and by no means jarring. Naturally, working with mono means some compromise is inevitable.
Dare I say it? An improvement. It's been a while since I've seen the original, but it felt like it flowed so much better. Sure, the scoring probably helped, but I know SSJ also did some trimming and I certainly didn't miss anything. Making the flick family friendly is also a nice bonus.
Of course, the added Star Warsian element is masterfully done. Clever name changes, loads of subtle lines that felt natural and yet also sang with referential nerdiness, and excellent music choice to not only stir the soul with a sense of nostalgia, but enable one to connect with the characters and events all the more.
Favourite moments (spoilers):
- Binary sunset during the Princess' mourning was perfect.
- Loved Duel of the Fates during the spear battle
- Emperor Palpatine's/Throne Room theme during when Jin is identifying them. Gorgeous. Sent chills down my spine AND (spoilerrrrrr) made his switching of sides all the more unexpected.
It's so tempting to list all my favourite lines and references, but I'll restrain myself. If you're reading this review and you haven't watched it yet (chrono-hop featurette included) - watch it.
Well thought out homage edit from an editor renowned for jests and wordplay.
Take the Kurosawa film that inspired Star Wars, replace the score with John Williams music, and insert - now and then - sly Star Wars references and quotes.
More than that, remain true to the original film, The Hidden Fortress.
Probably not nearly as easy as it sounds.
Video - 1280 X 534 AVC. For an older film, the image is sharp. There are any number of trims throughout and I did not notice a one. Usually cutting a beat or two from a scene to quicken the pace.
Audio - 256kbps AAC. 2 Channel stereo. The commentary track is 128 kbps, also stereo. Subtitles, rejoice!
I wasn’t listening for problems and never caught any. I watched via home theater, room speakers cranked up.
Narrative - Spot on. Kurosawa or chambara buffs will find a fresh take on an old friend. Faithful, reverent, though the surprise factor is there throughout. A longish film, yet never dull or boring.
Enjoyment - Very much so. I have viewed the original source a couple of times on large screen, courtesy the museum. I caught many, most, I don’t know, of the Star Wars inserts. Probably not all, I was too busy enjoying the film from a different perspective.
There are a number of nice bonus treats I want to mention. The trailer for this is a plum, easily better than 99% of what major studios release. It gives a nice feel for the story without stumbling into the Cliff Notes synopsis. ssj provides a retranslated interview with director Kurosawa about time-hopping. A giggle or two, likely fun to create, but not essential. More to the fore is an outstanding commentary, discussing background, editing choices, dialogue tweaks, plot shuffling. Potential editors, take note, equate this with an entertaining college lecture you could learn from. The commentary also contains a mischievous prank from ssj.
When this edit was first announced, I anticipated a mocking lampoon. That it became this wonderful alternative version was most refreshing. For fans of both directors, this is a worthwhile watch. Readers who prefer edits off the beaten path definitely - definitely - check this one out.
What an experience. Life and all that. This edit shows a lot of what fanedits can do at their best: turn a great movie into an alternate great experience. Ssj has done a masterful job subtly transforming this movie. Some very smart cuts lead to not only a more "stream-lined" experience (not necessary to change) but to a more Star Warsy experience.
But screw all that. The biggest compliment I can give is that my 10 year old came in 20 minutes in and watched the whole thing. This is a kid who thinks stuff I show her from the 90s "look old as crap." There has only been one other black and white movie she watched in full and really liked (I'm counting this as I caught her up and she was on board from 20 minutes in) and that is the Elephant Man. Great company. She said "that actually looks really good even though it's black and white." The Star Wars elements were definitely her portal into this masterpiece of a film.
Working in Kanjiklub made me giggle, as did many other dialogue changes that I won't list/spoil. I know that mono tracks are a total bitch to work with, so kudos for that. I know this necessitated leaving some original score in certain scenes but truthfully I think it was better off for it. The original score is very good, they blended well and it avoided fatigue on the new scoring (I wouldn't know anything about that *ahem* *NBK*). The TFA tracks sounded surprisingly old in feel. Listening to the commentary track was awesome but also I really liked your explanation of how that happened. As much rescoring as I do sometimes, I rarely mess with the new audio itself, so thanks to you and Throw for teaching me something. I always enjoy when something works and you don't know why but then somebody teaches you why. There was some soft video in a couple spots as well as a contrast/saturation shift at 1:27:58 but I believe you from the commentary that it wasn't your fault! It's been quite a few years since I've watched the original so I'll take your word for it. There was only one audio transition I found a bit abrupt, at 37:47.
Since the rescore was the main focus of this edit, I'll just list a few of the times the new music really worked for me:
- Riot scene
- When our two idiots first find the gold
- Scene when princess as an uki is discussed
- Rey's theme
- When the smoke is coming from the fortress
- I was waiting for Duel of the Fates in that scene and I was absolutely not disappointed. Care was taken to match the action with the music and it showed
- Music throughout the climax was pitch perfect
The only subtitle change that really didn't work for me was the Princess line about the Yub Nub song. Her speech is so great, and the actress is just on fire, so to have that at the end of it felt a touch deflating.
Thank you so much for making this edit, and giving my daughter an in to a classic. We both enjoyed it immensely.
Also, my wife said "that guy has a killer voice. He should be a soothing therapist or on NPR or something" so there's that. :)
Hate to look like a blind lover of my favorite editor's stuff, but I really couldn't justify dropping any of those categories to a 9.
I thoroughly enjoyed this edit by ssj and highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of star wars, Akira Kurosawa, or great edits n general.
The work flows well, but I had a few minor gripes. Some of the dialogue changes felt unnecessary, especially in the first half. The name changes felt organic, so there was no issue arising from that. Also, there was, in my opinion, an excessive use of the imperial march and the music volume sometimes drowns out the voices.
I loved the bonus features; they were a nice addition to this movie.
Overall, I felt this was a very interesting edit to watch.
Our resident word-twister ssj has achieved far more than he likely set out to do with The Sukaiwaka Fortress. What initially began as a fun idea to inject some Star Wars into, arguably, the franchise's biggest inspiration, has resulted in not only an incredibly entertaining film, but an almost academic investigation into the Kurosawa-Lucas connection and film-making in general. As a preface, I should state that I usually approach these wild ideas with skepticism because they typically result in an interesting, but not-always-so-successful product. Even the best intentions and most-skilled editors have only commercially released end products to work with, not all the individual components that the original films' editors had at their disposal. As such, some ideas can not be executed, and others are left muddled or clunky in their delivery. That doesn't seem to be the case here. Perhaps The Hidden Fortress was easier to work with because of its sparser scoring, but I suspect it brought its own set of challenges and I believe that ssj handled this incredibly well. His familiarity with the source material, instinct for character motivations, and apparent expertise in linguistics (please peruse his forum posts...) helped create the perfect storm - a wonderfully enjoyable film experience that is respectful to both The Hidden Fortress and Star Wars.
Rather than drop bits of dialog from Star Wars verbatim into The Hidden Fortress, our faneditor has skillfully manipulated them to feel at home in the 16th Century setting. Some references may pass over casual Star Wars fans, while fan-boys and -girls will likely chuckle audibly at some of the phrasing. Similarly, the new music has been expertly added, and at times reworked, to seamlessly enhance our adventure set a long time ago in a country far far away.
As for the IFDb categorical review points:
A/V Quality - I watched the 720p mp4 version, which was produced with a pleasing crispness. The stereo audio was quite nice and the audio quality was more than sufficient for this film.
Visual Editing - Seamless.
Audio Editing - Impressive, most impressive. There are a few lingering blemishes resulting from the original mono mix, but nothing to complain about, and they will be inaudible to most viewers.
Narrative - Not much has been excised from the film, but ssj has actually done quite a bit of subtle trimming and reshaping to fit The Hidden Fortress into a Star Wars adventure. The resulting narrative is very successful.
Enjoyment - I absolutely loved this.
There were a number of new lines of dialog (via subtitle) that I loved, but I won't list them here so that viewers can enjoy the surprises themselves. The same is true of the commentary, which is an absolute must watch (listen?). What I enjoyed most about the commentary, and indeed the edit itself, is that it isn't simply a different outlet for the editor to say "I changed this" or "I needed to fix that" or "well, that obviously had to go." ssj goes through what seems like a bit of exploration into these films, and continued discovery about their details through discussion about his motivations, his editing, and his exploration of why the characters may have done what they did either in the original story or in the alternate universe we are presented with. The delivery is very soothing and enjoyable, and I couldn't help but feel like I was listening to an evening program on NPR. I guess that gave even more authenticity to what felt like an academic exploration of these films.
I feel honored to have been included in some of the previewing stages, and I can't recommend this edit enough. Thanks ssj!