Friday, December 27, 2019

The Hidden Fortress

Akira Kurosawa made this movie in 1958. Kurosawa is probably the best director of all time. On Imdb he has thirteen movies with ratings over 8.0 (Seven Samurai, High and Low, Red Beard, Dersa Uzala, Ikiru, Ran, Yojimbo, Rashomon, Sanjuro, The Bad Sleep Well, The Hidden Fortress, Throne of Blood, Kagemusha). I don't think any other director has that kind of track record.
The Hidden Fortress is a story about two greedy peasants escorting a man and a woman across enemy lines. The man and women are really a princess and a samurai general (Toshiro Mifune). The movie is told from the point of view of the two bumbling peasants who are clueless to what is going on around them. One of Kurosawa's strengths was his ability to mix comedy into his period dramas. He might have stolen this from John Ford, but he seems to have  done it much better.
George Lucas acknowledges the movie's influence on Star Wars. In an interview in 2001 he said "The one thing that really struck me about The Hidden Fortress was the fact that the story was told from the [perspective of] the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story, which was to take the two lowest characters, as Kurosawa did, and tell the story from their point of view, which in the Star Wars case is the two droids.”

Upon Kurosawa' death Roger Ebert said "Akira Kurosawa, one of the greatest of all film directors, died Sunday in Tokyo. He was 88. His later years were spent in near-blindness, and yet he continued to work, sketching scenes with the paper only inches from his eyes, and his final film was made only five years ago. Of the postwar giants who redefined the art of the cinema, what other director, save perhaps Sweden's Ingmar Bergman, could claim so many masterpieces? The titles are like a roll-call of greatness: "Stray Dog," "Rashomon," "Ikiru," "The Seven Samurai," "Throne of Blood," "The Hidden Fortress," "The Idiot," "Yojimbo," "High and Low," "Red Beard," "Dersu Uzala," "Kagemusha," "Ran," and many more."
The Hidden Fortress is a movie well worth seeing.