The Hidden Fortress (kakushi-toride No San-akunin) Reviews
It's kind of a straight forward action type picture but when it eventually gets rolling, you really are invested in it.
Not to say that the story is bad, but when compared to other Kurosawa films, the best parts of Hidden Fortress pale in comparison. The use of peasants as an introduction to a story with a much larger scope is cool, but done better in Seven Samurai. The same goes for it's period detail.
At over two hours it is treading into the run time of some of his epics, which does not feel justified by the much smaller character driven story.
I probably sound like I didn't like the movie, but it's really not a bad movie by any means. This is Kurosawa at a lower point and it still years ahead of the competition.
It is often mentioned how influential this film was in setting the building blocks for Lucas and Spielberg's blockbusters. As for setting a template for Star Wars, it was the weakest element of Hidden Fortress that carried over to the space fantasy. The two peasants are the banchmark for annoying comic relief characters like c-3P0 and R2D2, but I was thinking they were also much like Jar Jar Binks, sans Jamaican accent.
There are several scenes in this film that, on their own, could define an entire movie. Criterion's restoration leaves nothing to be desired.
Hidden Fortress is perhaps one of the great auteur's more understated masterpieces, but viewers ought to remember that without it, we wouldn't have Star Wars, and we'd likely have missed out on many a Sergio Leone western along the way. Elegant in its simplicity, the film is peppered with good humour and unforgettable exchanges - more than a handful of which have have left indelible marks on modern cinema as we know it.
The film is undoubtedly overlong, with a tendency to sway softly between its moments of greatness, but this only renders each all the more rewarding, reflective and resonant. So sit back, and let poetry unfold before your very eyes.