Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Akira Kurosawa is often thought of to have been influenced by American film makers, John Ford especially. While I do not have any doubt of this in my mind I find it strange that nobody ever makes a connection between Kurosawa and Alfred Hitchcok. There is a genius simplicity that runs through the films of Kurosawa which I can only relate back to Hitchcock. Its not that the films themselves are simple. They are quite genius but they play more as a giant set piece. The story itself is simple but the way it is told is not for the simple minded.

The Hidden Fortress is told from the point of view of two moronic cowards. These piss-poor peasants have no back bone at all and fear everything but each other. The two cowards attempt to get home but are stuck between enemy boarders in a time of war. They pussy-foot around until they come across a legendary Samurai named General Rokurota Makabe played by the great Toshirô Mifune (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Throne Of Blood) and nearly two hundred other titles. The Samurai plays off the greed and arrogance of the two cowardly peasants to help pass a sixteen year old princess over enemy lines.

Bribed with gold the peasants fall right into the scheme of things. Of course they have no idea that the young beauty is a princess. The princess humiliates her self for the benefit of her people and poses as a mute and the two cowards take every chance possible to try to get their greedy little hands on her nubile body.

There is this twisted sense of humor that flows throughout The Hidden Fortress which Kurosawa fans should be familiar with. There is almost a sort of Three Stooges thing going on in here. Its almost as if you threw the Stooges into a Hitchcocks Rope or Rear Window. It really has to be seen to be understood.

The Hidden Fortress sports some epic Samurai action. Nothing overly bloody but epic none the less. We have casts of hundreds rioting through the fallen barren lands of a Japanese war zone. We also have a really cool chase scene on horse back where men are sawed into with Samurai swords. The sex appeal comes from the sexy princess who for some reason wears silly looking shorts and in the films sleaziest moment the camera peeks pretty close up those shorts. The dialogue is exceptionally funny in this one. "I hate your face" "I hate the way you look, you shit worm". "Shit-Worm" is used quite a bit in this one. I don't exactly know what a shit-worm is but I like the sound of it. I guess its like a maggot or something unless of course its one of those crazy bugs that you only see in Japanese movies.

For a good time with swords play, shit-worms, action and comedy check this one out. Like most Kurosawa films it can be a little slow at times but the set pieces are just to good to pass up.


  1. This one was also a big influence on George Lucas for STAR WARS where he lifted whole characters and events and just put them in outer space.

  2. Yeah I watched an interview with Lucas where he admits his influence on Star Wars. Pretty interesting because the two films are worlds apart in every way other then general plot.

  3. That's true, it wasn't a rip-off,copy or re-make like most filmmakers today would have done. Lucas also mixed in sci-fi serial stuff from the olden days and, for the 70's, amazing fx so it didn't try to negate or show-up it's inspirations which again is what most modern assholes that make movies do. Of course later on he shit all over STAR WARS by becoming a cgi-obsessed hack.

  4. When I was a kid I watched the Star Wars trilogy on a constant loop. The funny thing is that I haven't seen any of them since about the age of ten and I really feel no need to ever see them again, especially the more recent ones.

  5. They were perfect movies for a ten year old. The only Lucas thing I ever go back and watch now is THX1138.

  6. Yeah well THX is really cool. "Do you think you are robot clean? Does this face look almost mean? Is it time to be an android, not a man?"