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Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess / B1 / Japan

28.09.15

Poster Poster
Title
Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess
AKA
Kakushi toride no san akunin (Japan - original title)
Year of Film
2008
Director
Shinji Higuchi
Starring
Jun Matsumoto, Daisuke Miyagawa, Kippei Shîna, Masami Nagasawa, Hiroshi Abe
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Jun Matsumoto, Daisuke Miyagawa, Kippei Shîna, Masami Nagasawa, Hiroshi Abe,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2008
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Takehiko Inoue
Size (inches)
28 11/16" x 40 9/16"
SS or DS
DS
Tagline
--

Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess is director Shinji Higuchi‘s take on Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 original classic The Hidden Fortress. By all accounts Higuchi ups the pace and gore levels significantly. The plot is described thusly:

Makabe Rokurota (Hiroshi Abe), the loyal retainer of Princess Yuki-hime of Akizuki (Masami Nagasawa), is moving the Princess and the prefecture’s ample treasury of gold bars safely to the politically stable Hayakawa area. They disguise themselves as humble firewood peddlers, hiding the gold bars inside the logs they are carrying, so as to pass safely through roadblocks, which are under the control of the local warlord. Along the way, Rokurota comes across Takezo (Jun Matsumoto) and Shimpachi (Daisuke Miyagawa), who have escaped from forced labour in a gold mine. They eventually agree to help out on this foolhardy mission in the hope of escaping Yamana’s oppression and cashing in on the gold reward Rokurota offers them.

The Takezo and Shimpachi characters (called Tahei and Matashichi in the original) were famously to serve as inspiration for George Lucas when he created Star Wars’ R2D2 and C3P0. The three reviews for this film that are on IMDb don’t exactly paint the film in a great light:

‘The two peasants are given more screen time and fleshed out more, but not to any productive effect. In the original they were the model for R2D2 and C3PO. In the updated version, they become Jar Jar Binks with sappy emotions.’

This poster has artwork that is credited to Takehiko Inoue who is a Japanese artist that was born in 1967 in Okuchi, Kagoshima and is best known for his work on manga, with two titles in particular, Slam Dunk and samurai tale Vagabond, that are popular across the globe. His Wikipedia page details a history of his work and also notes that he’s a huge fan of basketball and is a published sports writer. Inoue has also done design work for video games, including Lost Odyssey on the Xbox 360. I can’t find any record of any other film poster work but I can only assume he has done some.

Godzilla: Final Wars / B2 / montage style / Japan

08.05.14

Poster Poster

This is the B2 poster for the Japanese release of Godzilla: Final Wars, which was the 28th film in the long-running franchise featuring the King of the Kaiju (giant monsters). The film was also the sixth release in the third generation of Godzilla films (known as the Millennium Series). Final Wars was something of a milestone for the film’s production company Toho Company Ltd as it marked 50 years since the release of the original film that started it all and also marked a break in the production of Godzilla films, with Toho declaring they wouldn’t film another Japanese entry in the franchise for at least 10 years and then dismantling the stage used for most entries.

Final Wars is set in 2044 and sees the Earth Defence Force dealing with an alien threat in the from of the Xiliens who secretly unleash Kaiju across the planet, including Rodan, Ebirah and Anguirus. After cities like Sydney, Shanghai and Paris are almost destroyed the aliens remove the Kaiju in an act of supposed benevolence and warn the earth about an impending impact from an asteroid called Gorath. The UN is disbanded and an alliance called the Space Nations is formed to tackle the new threat. A few members of the Earth Defence Force distrust the aliens’ intentions and discover that they were responsible for unleashing the Kaiju and that they really intend to harvest humanity for food. The group hatch a plan to unleash Godzilla from his frozen tomb in Antarctica where he’s lain for 40 years to help them tackle the threat.

The film is something of a greatest hits compilation, featuring as it does monsters and human characters from the franchise’s past, and the montage nature of this poster suits it well. Toho spent almost $20 million producing the film, which was the highest budget in the franchise to date, but unfortunately the medley of monsters and anniversary tag didn’t help it’s critical or commercial performance. It’s eventual box-office takings totalled just $12 million and made it the worst performing film in the series for 27 years.

The artwork on this poster is by Noriyoshi Ohrai, my favourite Japanese artist and certainly in my top five greatest film poster illustrators of all time. He’s responsible for a number of other Star Wars related posters, including this lovely 1982 B2 to celebrate the release of the Japanese dubbed version of the original film. He also worked on other posters in the Godzilla franchise, some of which can be seen here. In March 2014 a retrospective exhibition was held in Japan of Ohrai’s work and I made the trip over to Miyazaki to see the exhibition. I’m very glad I did as it featured most of his original artwork and a whole array of posters and book covers. A full report will follow soon.

The posters I’ve managed to collect by Noriyoshi Ohrai can be seen by clicking here.