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I am in my 60's and I saw this film not long after it hit North America. I have seen it a couple of times since on TV. I was happy to find it in my local library. It is a great comedy as well as a look into the darkness of the character of two bumbling idiots, and the dignity of royalty that comes from within and the loyalty of a feudal class that has passed into history.
This film can be appreciated on many levels. For those addicted to 'shoot-em-ups' with non-stop action - let's hope that one day you will grow to appreciate this kind of film as well.
Two peasants on grave-digging duty stumble across the general of a fallen clan, along with a disguised princess and a cache of gold. The film (which later inspired George Lucas’ Star Wars) follows the mismatched group as they make their way across enemy territory, each with their own plans concerning the treasure.
A Kurosawa gem. A must see for all writers and directors. The perfect example of the Hero's Journey in a story with a Samurai set to protect a Princess on an incredible adventure with two bumbling thieves. Yeah, it sounds familiar because George Lucas said he was influenced ny parts of this film when writing his own adventure classic — "Star Wars: A New Hope." Mifune is brilliant as always.
A bit distraught from the lack of success of his last two films which he deemed heavy and tragic, Akira Kurosawa took a new tone with this movie stating: " I want to make a 100% entertainment film, full of thrills and fun ".
I enjoyed this interesting film. We can see the basic elements of the story that can form the basis of star wars. Kurosawa seems to always produce a provocative film on serious human questions or challenges. This one is the destruction of another clan/kingdom at all costs to attain domination. We still see this going on in all theaters of civil. ethnic, religious or national wars. Wherever one entity is threatened, total annihilation of 'the other' is pursued.
I believe I have said before in a comment on a Kurosawa movie - I am not a fan of the grimaced shouting!
of the 20 I have watched so far Ikiru continues to be my Kurosawa favourite with Dersu Uzala 2nd.
After its final scene, I was sorry that there was no second DVD, just a pull out review insert by film historian Armond White (see write up in summary.). Love the story (action adventure comedy drama about a young princess, her loyal general and two greedy dimwits,) music score, pace, acting and non-stop humor. Great film by Japan's most important film maker 黒澤 明 in the 20th century.
DO NOT watch this movie only because you heard that it inspired Star Wars. Here are the things from this movie that appear in Star Wars:
1. The thread of the story follows two bumbling, low-class characters that stumble into a much larger story.
2. Wipe transitions.
3. A strong female protagonist.
Now that we have that out of the way, you should watch this movie on its own merits. It's arguably too long, but still well made and well done.
A really good "must see" movie that only suffers from its length and editing.
A very old Japanese movie but it is still entertaining. It is too long for my taste. Parts of the movie could have been cut.
Another Akira Kurosawa film that needs to be seen by the unwashed masses who were enthralled by the western "versions", such as
in this case, Star Wars.
as good as or even better than Pulp Fiction. Very long movie about an epic journey to flee from a defeated clan
Akira Kurosawa, Japan's most loved director of all time, released The Hidden Fortress in 1958. Over the years it's become more renowned for what it's influenced ( Stars Wars ) rather than anything else. Kurosawa's filmography is based on variety. Some of his films focus entirely on plot, other revolve around an exploration of the characters. His films even range from great ( Seven Samurai ) to exhausting overrated ( Rashomon ).
The Hidden Fortress follows the adventure of a Japanese general and a princess' attempt to smuggle gold by disguising it in wooden sticks. Along with them are two poor peasants -- men who will do anything when tempted by the glimmering sight of gold. The film depicts the events that unfold after the unlikely accomplices embark on their dangerous journey.
The Hidden Fortress does not explore its characters. They're only used as a vehicle to progress the plot. The result is a rather one-dimensional film, where the viewer's investment is blocker by a brick wall representing the cardboard characters. The two peasants are the more interesting adventurers, as they have significant personalities that actually affect the story. But they also happen to be whiny cowards who in one scene draw straws to decide which of them gets to rape the sleeping princess (who happens to be sixteen). This scene is even played up to be comedic, which is to say the least, repulsive. In the end, according to Kurosawa's calculations, we're supposed to have fallen in love with these two despicable and obnoxious scumbags. The viewer is intended to consider their annoying complaining throughout to be "cute" and their attempt at raping an innocent woman to be a "charming display of humor". In that regard, The Hidden Fortress is disgusting.
Toshirô Mifune is far less of a great actor than an exciting action hero. He speaks with an exaggeratedly menacing voice, and for some reason delivers most of his lines like that. But come danger, Mifune's excessively masculine (to the point of self-parody) persona comes into play. But he manages to display charisma along with heroism just as Sean Connery might have in a James Bond film. While Mirfune is not enough of a gifted actor to make The Hidden Fortress shine, he's certainly responsible for many of its entertaining moments.
While in other movies Kurosawa excels at directing with humanity, none of that is to be found here. He dedicates his attention towards the exceptionally choreographed fight sequences. The highlight is a scene involving a battle where the participants are on horseback. This is extremely difficult to capture on camera, but Kurosawa succeeds to film the sequence with startling intimacy. The other action scenes are overlong and veer into tedium. Samurai cinema is often known for lengthy battle scenes. In Masaki Kobayashi's superb Harakiri the climax contains an incredibly lengthy sword fight, but you never notice how long it truly is because Kobayashi supplies the viewer with tension, something Kurosawa forgets.
The Hidden Fortress has its moments where the images surpass all of its other aspects. Credit goes to Kazuo Yamasaki for numerous longshots where we look out at the beautiful and sprawling landscapes. It's this tremendous photography that fills the viewer with awe and makes everything feel real. The visuals are too exquisite to have been shot in a studio. We're looking off into the real world.
Adventure cinema hinges on how fun and entertaining the result is and whether it has a tight grip on the audience. The Hidden Fortress bounces from dull to exciting moments, having having an average pace. While watching The Hidden Fortress you'll never be struck by "the master of Japanese cinema", but it takes notice of Kurosawa's skill which he capitilized on in other films, such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo .
I must say I enjoy Star Wars, although this older, B/W film also has its charm. The princess in distress was both pretty and a caring individual, and her protector played by Toshiro Mifune a respectable and loyal character. So you care about them. Frankly, I find the two fumbling characters over-acting a little bit, and hence like the R2-D2 and C3-PO version better.
George Lucas has acknowledged influence of The Hidden Fortress on Star Wars Episode IV: "A New Hope"---particularly in the technique of telling the story from the perspective of the film's lowliest characters, C-3PO and R2-D2.
Their counterparts are Tahei（太平：千秋実） and Matashichi（又七：藤原釜足）---the two comic relief characters that serve as sidekicks to General Makabe（真壁六郎太：三船敏郎） played by Toshiro Mifune.
One of my favorite movies. Forget Star Wars, this hilarious, action-packed flick (featuring one of Toshiro Mifune's very best performances) more than stands on its own.
The two "bungling misfits" in this film inspired R2D2 and C3PO in Star Wars...