George Lucas, founder of Lucasfilm and original creator of the now-widely sprawling space opera franchise “Star Wars,” has long revealed that his work on the first film (1977) of the eventual series contains influences on “jidai-geki,” or Japanese period films set in the days of the samurai. The 1958 Akira Kurosawa movie “The Hidden Fortress” is cited as inspiring the initial viewpoint of “Episode IV” being the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, rather than the main character Luke. Japanese audiences are aware of course of the inspiration and a strong “Star Wars” fandom can be found in the country. Recently, they even adapted scenes from the “Sequel” trilogy into Japanese stagecraft.
Comic Book Resources reports that a traditional theatre troupe in Japan has adapted key scenes from “Star Wars” Episodes VII and VIII – “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” – into a three-act kabuki play. The production, entitled “Three Shining Swords,” was a one-off performance done Thursday, November 28, at the Tokyo Persimmon Hall. The play is divided into three acts, each depicting a key scene in the two released films of the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy. The sinister protagonist of the play is Dark Force user Kylo Ren of the First Order, corrupted son of Han Solo and Leia Organa.
Being a kabuki play, “Three Shining Swords” transplants the “Star Wars” scenes into a stylized Japanese setting, with appropriately renamed characters. The narrative has three acts: “Blade to the Father” references “The Force Awakens” when Kairen (Kylo) kills his father Hanzo (Han) under the influence of the Dark Side. “Blade to the Lord” skips to “The Last Jedi” when Kairen kills his master Snowuku (Snoke) and battles his bodyguard alongside Rei (Rey). And lastly, “Blade to the Teacher” sees Kairen fighting his former mentor Lukuu (Luke), driven by rage to kill him despite realizing his enemy is not physically present.
The kabuki production was directed by veteran genre performer Ichikawa Ebizo XI, who served as director, choreographer and performer of the part of Kylo/Kairen. In interview he spoke of how his interest in space, the setting of “Star Wars,” was inspired by his own father. Of the themes of the movies adapted into his play, Ebizo remarks how fear and anxiety have “sharpened” the powers of good and evil for a final confrontation against each other. Like many fans, he is excited to see how it all concludes in “The Rise of Skywalker” next month.
The whole performance of “Three Shining Swords” was recorded and uploaded to YouTube by Disney Japan on their official channel. Note that it will only remain viewable until December 5.
Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly