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 Post subject: 116 The Hidden Fortress
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:50 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
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The Hidden Fortress

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A general and a princess must dodge enemy clans while smuggling the royal treasure out of hostile territory with two bumbling, conniving peasants at their sides; it's a spirited adventure that only Akira Kurosawa could create. Acknowledged as a primary influence on George Lucas' Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress delivers Kurosawa's inimitably deft blend of wry humor, breathtaking action and humanist compassion on an epic scale. The Criterion Collection is proud to present this landmark motion picture in a stunning, newly-restored Tohoscope edition.

Original DVD Special Features

- New 16x9 transfer, with digitally restored image and sound
- Exclusive video interview with George Lucas about The Hidden Fortress
- Optional Dolby Digital 3.0 soundtrack preserving the original Perspect-A-Sound simulated-stereo effects
- Original theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

2014 Dual-Format Special Features

- New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack preserving the original Perspecta simulated stereo effects, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
- New audio commentary by film historian Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa
- Documentary from 2003 on the making of the film, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
- Interview from 2001 with filmmaker George Lucas about Kurosawa
- Trailer
- New English subtitle translation
- One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Catherine Russell

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 10:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:24 pm
Would you say the odds of Criterion giving this one an update are good?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:09 pm 
zombeaner wrote:
Would you say the odds of Criterion giving this one an update are good?

I think this film would be at the bottom of the list of Kurosawa films that need updating. The extras are meager, but I don't think this film is really begging for any-- and besides the transfer is amazing.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 1:53 am 
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All true, but Kurosawa-Mifune collaborations are among some of Criterion's best sellers-- and they are nearly out of them. I'd agree that Hidden Fortress is pretty far down on Criterion's to-do list, but I'd imagine they'll come back to it eventually.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:45 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:22 am
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This film is a gem. A fun and adventurous romp with loads of comedy and heart. The battles are great and the camera shots are amazing. I think the current DVD is excellent and the only thing I would love is a commentary alternating with Lucas and Ritchie.

One of my all time favorite Criterion's.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:49 pm 
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MilkManX wrote:
I think the current DVD is excellent and the only thing I would love is a commentary alternating with Lucas and Ritchie.

I'm not so sure that this movie requires a commentary track. What it does need, however, is the appropriate It Is Wonderful To Create episode. I wonder how/when Criterion will ever get that one (and the one for Red Beard) out?

BTW, I believe that this was the very first Kurosawa I ever saw, and I agree that it is small gem of a movie.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:59 pm 
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tryavna wrote:
MilkManX wrote:
I think the current DVD is excellent and the only thing I would love is a commentary alternating with Lucas and Ritchie.

I'm not so sure that this movie requires a commentary track. What it does need, however, is the appropriate It Is Wonderful To Create episode. I wonder how/when Criterion will ever get that one (and the one for Red Beard) out?

BTW, I believe that this was the very first Kurosawa I ever saw, and I agree that it is small gem of a movie.

Rashomon and Throne of Blood had entries in the series, too, correct?

Aside from High and Low, none of those previous Kurosawa releases are in bad enough shape to warrant a new edition. My theory is that Criterion will release entries in the series as supplements of another Kurosawa film...maybe High and Low will have a second disc devoted entirely to it, or a future Kurosawa box will have it as a bonus disc. I actually speculated that the special edition of Seven Samurai would have a disc of those, but that has come and gone.

We'll see. I'd just rather not re-purchase Hidden Fortress, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, or Red Beard for these episodes.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:06 pm 
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What A Disgrace wrote:
Rashomon and Throne of Blood had entries in the series, too, correct?

[...]

I'd just rather not re-purchase Hidden Fortress, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, or Red Beard for these episodes.

Ah, yes, Throne of Blood and Rashomon had slipped my mind. (I always think that Rashomon has the entry in the series because of the short extra on Miyagawa, but obviously that's not part of the series.)

At any rate, I'm with you. I don't want to have to re-buy those four titles. An upgrade of High and Low is a no-brainer, though, and it would be a possible venue for releasing all five episodes in the series.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:27 pm 
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That series is excellent, and are indespensible to any fan of Kurosawa (he happens to be my favorite director).

I've been holding off on buying Many of those films though, particularly High And Low, because I don't want to have to re-purchase them. But, High And Low (w/ any missing episodes of the series) would easily become one of my favorite releases.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:55 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:22 am
Location: Tucson AZ USA
I am just glad that Hidden Fortress was 16:9 Enhanced. I was so happy to get a Widescreen TV but when I put in the old Yojimbo I was so sad. Thankfully they made a new version.

I would easily buy Hidden Fortress again but probably not till a high def version is made available and maybe then it will have the Wonderful to Create segment on it.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:57 pm 
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I think the best way for Criterion to release It's Wonderful to Create would be as a bonus disc for the release of Dodesukaden.

This film probably would not sell well on its own, but by adding this documentary it could help boost sales.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:12 pm 
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Antares wrote:
I think the best way for Criterion to release It's Wonderful to Create would be as a bonus disc for the release of Dodesukaden.

This film probably would not sell well on its own, but by adding this documentary it could help boost sales.

Good call. Although, I would definitely buy Dodesukaden if it was by itself! Will they get on with releasing that, already!?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:18 pm 
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knives wrote:
Doesn't The Hidden Fortress already have a spine? Also I think the Eisenstein silents were shot down recently.

The Hidden Fortress is one of Criterion's crappy Kurosawa releases, like the original Yojimbo and Sanjuro. It's ripe for a rerelease.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:22 am 
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kaujot wrote:
knives wrote:
Doesn't The Hidden Fortress already have a spine? Also I think the Eisenstein silents were shot down recently.

The Hidden Fortress is one of Criterion's crappy Kurosawa releases, like the original Yojimbo and Sanjuro. It's ripe for a rerelease.

What? It's not even in the same area code as those two. That release is fine. The only thing missing is the "It Is Wonderful to Create" episode.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:45 am 
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After looking at the Beev screengrabs, I sheepishly stand corrected in terms of image quality. That said, for a film that was influential (I'm sure not JUST to George Lucas), I bet Criterion wants to do more with it.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:48 am 
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When they run out of new titles, I'm sure they'll trot it out again


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:03 am 

Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:29 pm
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kaujot wrote:
After looking at the Beev screengrabs, I sheepishly stand corrected in terms of image quality. That said, for a film that was influential (I'm sure not JUST to George Lucas), I bet Criterion wants to do more with it.

If you've seen "The Hidden Fortress", you'll realize that, no, there's not much more to be done with it. A blu-ray release, eventually, but this slight adventurer would support no grand package bursting at the gills with scholarly analyses. Your assertion aside, it's simply not an "influential" film, nor a particularly important one despite Criterion's mission statement. In fact, of all of Criterion's mainline Kurosawa releases, I'd say it's the least significant (if only because they don't hold the rights to "Dreams").


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:53 pm 
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Rich Malloy wrote:
In fact, of all of Criterion's mainline Kurosawa releases, I'd say it's the least significant (if only because they don't hold the rights to "Dreams").

"Dreams" is much more significant than "Hidden Fortress"; whatever you think of the film, it's obvious that Kurosawa's intention with it was (perhaps for a final time) to come to terms with many major topics that had concerned him in his life as an artist and to make a concluding ethical/didactic/moral statement. "Hidden Fortress", by contrast, is not much more than a light-weight adventure pot boiler, a film about which I always wondered why he had made it at all, at least at that time of his life and after such major statements like "The lower depths" and "Throne of blood". So it was probably not much more than a diversion, or a good way to experiment with the scope format for the first time. And as such, it's clearly not in need to be re-done by Criterion.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:56 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
Rich Malloy wrote:
In fact, of all of Criterion's mainline Kurosawa releases, I'd say it's the least significant (if only because they don't hold the rights to "Dreams").

And as such, it's clearly not in need to be re-done by Criterion.

I totally agree. The only way I would double dip is a Blu-ray.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:56 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
Rich Malloy wrote:
In fact, of all of Criterion's mainline Kurosawa releases, I'd say it's the least significant (if only because they don't hold the rights to "Dreams").

"Dreams" is much more significant than "Hidden Fortress"; whatever you think of the film, it's obvious that Kurosawa's intention with it was (perhaps for a final time) to come to terms with many major topics that had concerned him in his life as an artist and to make a concluding ethical/didactic/moral statement. "Hidden Fortress", by contrast, is not much more than a light-weight adventure pot boiler, a film about which I always wondered why he had made it at all, at least at that time of his life and after such major statements like "The lower depths" and "Throne of blood". So it was probably not much more than a diversion, or a good way to experiment with the scope format for the first time. And as such, it's clearly not in need to be re-done by Criterion.

Really? I always thought it was a hysterical parody/complication of the adventure-samurai genre. I mean, the "heroes" are dirty, awful peasants, the heroic warrior is a clueless ass, and the teenage heroine-in-peril has more mental and moral strength, and more compassion, than any of the men. It's just like an ancient Greek satyr play in which the usual heroic subject is mediated for the audience by a chorus of irreverent, greedy, over-sexed satyrs (or peasants in Kurosawa's case). Maybe a closer familiarity with Japanese films of this genre would make it more apparent, but The Hidden Fortress is one of Kurosawa's less straightforward movies, not the least because he alters, and thereby asks us to question, the usual moral formula of the action-adventure movie. Plus I don't know why any movie this fun should be looked down on just because it's not interested in "big" ideas.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:11 am 
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Mr_sausage wrote:
Maybe a closer familiarity with Japanese films of this genre would make it more apparent, but The Hidden Fortress is one of Kurosawa's less straightforward movies, not the least because he alters, and thereby asks us to question, the usual moral formula of the action-adventure movie. Plus I don't know why any movie this fun should be looked down on just because it's not interested in "big" ideas.

I didn't mean to sound condescending with regard to "The Hidden Fortress", though I probably did. You have a strong point in any case about the alteration of the usual formula of the samurai movie. But this formula had already been altered in "Seven Samurai" to quite a degree, without however really questioning the heroism of the protagonists, and the parody aspect to me has always been much more visible in "Yojimbo". Perhaps that's why I tend to regard these as stronger or at least 'more important' films, although both are not among my favourite Kurosawas either. But yes, "The Hidden Fortress" IS a lot of fun, even if until now it hasn't much caused me to reflect upon it afterwards.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:26 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
the parody aspect to me has always been much more visible in "Yojimbo".

Well the difference between the parody of Yojimbo and the parody of The Hidden Fortress is that Yojimbo exaggerates its whole world to grotesque proportions, where The Hidden Fortress doesn't exaggerate its genre world, it simply alters our perspective on that world by making us see it, as it were, through the eyes of a pair of bumbling, awful peasants. So you're right, it is more visible in Yojimbo, but I don't think this has anything to do with superior filmmaking. Yojimbo is simply working in a different mode.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:43 pm 
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... seeing history the eyes of bumbling peasants....

Done in the 20s in Ikeda's Yajikita films (all that survives is available on one of the Talking Silents DVDs). Interestingly, one of the bumblers is the great Denjiro Okochi (who was later an early AK star). Frankly, this pair is a lot more entertaining than Kurosawa's pair -- though who knows how they would hold up over the course of an intact full-length film (three were made, but fragments seem to remain for only two). Interestingly, although Yaji and Kita had a literary origin, the Yajikita films owed more to the buddy films of Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton than to the literary source.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:48 pm 
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Announced for dual-format release, March 18, 2014.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:23 pm 
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Contents for the upgrade are now up -

New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack preserving the original Perspecta simulated stereo effects, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
New audio commentary by film historian Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa
Documentary from 2003 on the making of the film, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
Interview from 2001 with filmmaker George Lucas about Kurosawa
Trailer
New English subtitle translation
One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Catherine Russell


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