Chinese Lianhuanhua: A Century of Pirated Movies
May 27, 2014 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Before bootleg DVDs, western movies were adapted into Lianhuanhua: linked picture books that could be bought or rented. While many stories were told, and many movies were "pirated" in this way, one of particular interest is Star Wars.

OCR scan of the original Star Wars lianhuanhua.

And Part 1 of a translation project of the Star Wars lianhuanhua.

More about lianhuanhua.
posted by nubs (26 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Whoa. Hey, Princess Leia.
posted by duffell at 1:28 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is fucking great.
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:33 PM on May 27, 2014

I'm looking forward to the translation being complete - it certainly looks like the end of the film has been interpreted as a wedding between Luke and Leia to me.
posted by nubs at 1:33 PM on May 27, 2014

Kennedy Space Center? This is brilliant! I'd love to see a full translation.
posted by calamari kid at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2014

Heh. The bottle of J&B in Obi Wan's pad.

posted by logicpunk at 1:40 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am disappointed the prequels didn't involve Jedi knights wielding their lightsabers astride rocket-firing dirtbikes.
posted by ckape at 2:08 PM on May 27, 2014

I don't think the J&B is a bottle. In the next frame it appears to be a sign on the wall. Maybe ol' Ben Kenobi used to run a bar.

On page 75, Vader apparently needed to outsource the tracking of the Rebels to NASA. He was probably too busy riding his triceratops around to do it himself.
posted by neckro23 at 2:32 PM on May 27, 2014

I'd love to know what's going on with the medical droid--I don't think we saw one of those until ESB. (I'm not even sure it's been interpreted as a medical droid.)

Han Solo would have something to say about what's been done to the Millennium Falcon. Also, did they actually render Chewbacca as an ape in one of the panels?

Good heavens, Princess Leia.

The Lars homestead is surprisingly ritzy.

Yup, looks like a wedding to me, too.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:34 PM on May 27, 2014

This thing is incredibly strange. Part of it reads like someone was drawing objects and people from a verbal description, such as the X-Wing fighters ("It's a fighter space plane with four wings!"), and then another part appears to be inspired by at least art work if not a photograph of some things from Empire Strikes Back, hence the medical droids and the use of Boba Fett as as stand in for storm troopers in some scenes. A third part seems to owe itself to other ideas, such as the Death Star (I think?) or Star Destroyer looking vaguely like the Battleship Yamamoto and the desert transport being kind of like a GI Joe transport (though, I think it predates that). There are other items in there.

I loved how the Jedi Knight is shown wearing knight's armor (and as mentioned above, riding a motorcycle instead of a horse). Chewbacca is oddly like a chimpanzee in appearance and so on. I definitely feel that if I was traveling in a part of the world where there was a slight language barrier, the person had no knowledge of Star Wars outside of a few images, and I tried to describe Star Wars to them, this would be the result.
posted by Atreides at 2:40 PM on May 27, 2014

There's also IG-88 and Boba Fett. My guess is that they were using toys as models, and weren't limiting themselves to Star Wars toys, much less A New Hope.
posted by ckape at 2:42 PM on May 27, 2014

I only looked at a few panels and I had to stop, because I was overwhelmed with sadness. The movie depicted looked so much better than the actual film.
posted by The Power Nap at 2:49 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are certain points where the stormtrooper helmets look Fett-ish to me as well; I think this was definitely done from promotional images/production stills/storyboards and toys and given that it was apparently created in 1980, some of those were undoubtedly from Empire Strikes Back rather than a New Hope. I just love the pushing together of a different cultural perspective of Western culture of the 1970s, the idea if not the images of Star Wars (check out the version of a "two-seated land-repelling kind of spacecraft" in image 20), and the evocative image that get created as a result. Some are just weird, others oddly compelling.
posted by nubs at 2:52 PM on May 27, 2014

The translations from the Chinese is about 95% less clunky than the dialogue in the prequels, which I guess isn't a surprise.

My favorite bit is:

C-3PO agrees, saying, “You can say that again, Sir. Because of the Rebellion, and other reasons.”

"Because of the Rebellion, and other reasons" as summary C-3PO's life experience up until this point = perfection.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:11 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Really, really great stuff here. Super-crazy, off-model 1976 to early 1980 Star Wars stuff like this is manna from heaven for me. Besides the occasional Star Wars and Empire stills, some of the other source / reference photos and images used for this appears to include Japanese anime (as mentioned above), late 60s to late 70s NASA photos and concept art, European sci-fi comics, western magazine illustrations and ads, and so much more. It never ceases to amaze me how interesting international interpretations of North American pop culture fads are. Thanks again for this.
posted by acroyear at 7:50 PM on May 27, 2014

At this time, the two-meter-tall commander of the Imperial forces, Vader, appears wearing a black cape and a metal mask. His armor is already black enough, but its not nearly as black as his heart.

This is sublime.
Two meters tall!
I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters.

posted by NMcCoy at 12:13 AM on May 28, 2014

I love all the wild (and inconsistent) visual references. Yamato! Gemini capsule! Frazetta!
posted by The Tensor at 12:20 AM on May 28, 2014

Next time i go to the flea market i know what to look for.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 9:03 AM on May 28, 2014

Part 2 of the translation is up!
posted by nubs at 10:16 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Full of regret, Luke says, “Goddammit, he tricked me into uninstalling his control device!” is still better dialogue than the prologues.
posted by nubs at 10:20 AM on May 28, 2014

Not just Gemini, the part of the Tantive IV is played by the Manned Orbiting Laboratory.
posted by ckape at 3:12 PM on May 28, 2014

What the hell is Boba Fett doing in the first Star Wars story?
posted by ShutterBun at 9:05 PM on May 29, 2014

(dear me...that should be the LEAST of my concerns here)
posted by ShutterBun at 9:07 PM on May 29, 2014

Part 3 of the translation. Note the triceratops with Vader in panel 53.

I love Tarkin's cold logic:

[Finally] Tarkin comes up with another venomous plot: “To deal with this kind of obstinate behavior, the best strategy is to threaten a secondary object separate from the actual object [which we desire]."
posted by nubs at 11:12 AM on May 30, 2014

In Part 1, the ghosting through the page of panel 24 adds a pretty cool effect to panel 23.
posted by Lexica at 1:10 PM on May 31, 2014

Part 4

He(Vader) then saunters away...

Just trying to picture Vader sauntering. He strides, he marches, he might tromp; but I don't think Vader ever sauntered.
posted by nubs at 9:38 AM on June 2, 2014

Part 5


Part 6
posted by nubs at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2014

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