Friday, June 06, 2014

The Hidden Fortress

The Hidden Fortress is a 1958 Akira Kurosawa film starring Toshiro Mifune. We have the Criterion edition of this film. It is worth watching and watching again.


Here is an interesting side-by-side scene comparison of The Hidden Fortress and Star Wars illustrating the influence:

Senses of Cinema closes by saying, "It is, truly, this director’s lightest work, but on the other hand I don’t think it’s too left-handed a compliment to say that it’s among his “lesser masterpieces,” for that places it on a very high plane indeed." Kurosawa in Review has a plot description with accompanying screen shots. Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says,
Kurosawa most often did his finest work when combining his idiosyncratic and popular sensibilities into humane, broadly accessible entertainments; it just so happens that The Hidden Fortress remains more unabashedly entertaining than most.
Star Wars was influenced by this film, and there's more interest in that angle now that more Star Wars films are being made. DVD Talk says,
The movie, later the basis for the first Star Wars (1977), to the point where Hidden Fortress star Toshiro Mifune was even considered for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, remains as thrillingly entertaining now as it was 55 years ago. An epic period adventure, The Hidden Fortress is escapist gold, full of suspenseful action and broad comedy undated by the passage of time. It is, perhaps, Kurosawa's most accessible film for those normally scared off by foreign movies with English subtitles.
The BBC calls it "A comic epic" and says,
"The Hidden Fortress" effortlessly intertwines action, drama, and comedy in the story of a defeated general, Rokurota (Mifune), who is charged with guarding a princess as she flees to safety during the Japanese clan wars of the 16th century. Faced with having to escort the princess and her stockpile of gold alone, Rokurota enlists the help of two oafish peasants, Tahei (Chiaki) and Matakishi (Fujiwara).
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

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