The Hidden Fortress / Kakushi-toride no san-akunin
d. Akira Kurosawa / Japan / 1958 / 139 mins
Viewed at: A3.03 @ UEA (Norwich, UK)
Akira Kurosawa is but one link in the multifarious, omnivorous food chain that is world cinema. Some may bemoan the fact that George Lucas ‘stole’ chunks of The Hidden Fortress in the creation of his Star Wars series, but a cursory glance at Kurosawa’s filmography reveals a director equally ‘guilty’ of participating in the self-perpetuating cycle of influence, from ancient texts, to Shakespeare, to John Ford westerns, and beyond.
The links between Star Wars and the jidai-geki genre have been explained elsewhere, in far greater detail and with much more aplomb than time or inclination will allow me right now.
Instead, here are a handful of visual (and metavisual) intersections between Kurosawa’s part-time chambara featuring a bunch of odd characters helping a princess to flee to safety, and Lucas’ original space opera featuring a bunch of, well, a bunch of odd characters helping a princess flee to safety.
In a similar spirit, some clever clogs has made a delightful mock-up of a Hidden Fortress-style poster for Star Wars:
Toshirō Mifune – a Kurosawa regular, and star of The Hidden Fortress – was supposedly considered for the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy. If you’ve ever wondered what it would have been like, here’s a taster:
…and although the action is taken from Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (and not The Hidden Fortress), this video shows what pleasures were in store, had Mifune exchanged his samurai sword for a lightsaber™:
We can but dream…