| The Hidden Fortress
| 139 Minutes
|| 139 Minutes|
||Year of Manufacture
||Number of Discs
| 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)
|| 1.0 Mono, 3.0 Mono Perspecta
A relatively early Toho DVD release, The
Hidden Fortress is a great reminder of how
wonderful these earlier movies can look and sound
on the format when the proper care is given to
the title. In fact, Criterion does a spectacular
job with both the movie's video and audio presentation,
restoring both to a level of quality that was
likely only topped by the movie in its original
release. As for the supplemental content, it's
a little light compared to other titles from the
company, but still worth looking over.
Keeping in mind that the movie is 43 years
old at the time that this disc went into manufacture,
one really has to tip their hat to Criterion for
the excellent video quality found on this release.
There are some small problems to note though,
which are mainly in regards to the print used
for the transfer. These include a miniscule amount
of grain, a few scratches (although more numerous
on editing transitions), and some faint light
shimmering near the top of the screen. These small
annoyances aside, this transfer really looks fantastic
for the source material's age. The amount of visible
detail on this release is really something to
behold, as the film looks incredibly sharp, while
there are no signs of edge enhancement, or really
any digital inconsistency for that matter. The
brightness and contrast levels are also set accordingly
here, with the movie having rich blacks while
the darker sequences are still readily visible.
Hidden Fortress is presented in its
original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is Anamorphic
for widescreen TVs.
Criterion follows up the great video presentation
on this disc with some equally fantastic audio
tracks, which displays their commitment to the
movie's original format. In total, there are two
audio tracks present. The first is a 1.0 mono
track, which sounds soft but not bad. The second,
and a real treat, is a 3.0 Mono Perspecta presentation.
The track is a sort of simulated stereo experience,
taking the mono track and distributing it to the
separate speakers using different frequencies.
Despite sounding pretty rough in its description,
the end result is actually pretty remarkable.
Not as good as a solid two channel stereo track,
but a respectable improvement over the dull one
channel mono presentation, and it's the way the
movie was originally intended to be experienced
The audio can be accompanied by, removable, English
subtitles that correspond to the Japanese track.
The subtitling job is a little contemporary at
times ("If someone else notices it, we're
screwed."), but I didn't think it overstepped
its boundaries too much at any point in the movie.
Not a great deal of content, but it's worth
checking out. The main attraction here, of course,
is the eight minute video interview conducted
with George Lucas. During the interview Lucas
sounds off his three favorite titles from the
Samurai , Yojimbo
, and Ikiru
) while giving some history behind Kurosawa
and how Hidden Fortress inspired Star
Wars. Overall, the information isn't very
in depth, while he downplays the connections between
the 1958 movie and his own, but it's still a interesting
watch and nice to see Lucas reflect on what he
enjoyed about the director's body of work. The
other extra on this disc is the film's own trailer,
admittedly not in very good shape (both video
and audio wise) but it's better than nothing.
- Anthony Romero
Bottom line, this may not be Criterion's best
effort, but it's a great early release from the
company, and one that gives an idea of their dedication
in restoring these movies to best represent their
This disc is also featured in the DVD box set,
Kurosawa Four Samurai Classics.