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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Retro Review: THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (1958)

Hidden Fortress

From right to left: Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, and Kamatari Fujiwara

If the idea of an epic tale told through the eyes of two bumbling characters sounds familiar, it should. For some, the names C-3P0 and R2-D2—the robotic supporting characters that anchor the Star Wars trilogy—will come to mind immediately. However, creator George Lucas has admitted that an earlier Japanese film — Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress served as the inspiration for his own phenomenally successful space opera. But even so, there’s certainly more to The Hidden Fortress than just being the answer to a Star Wars trivia question.

Hidden Fortress 01

Seeing as how my review for The Last Princess, the 2009 remake of Kurosawa’s film, was recently posted to the site, I figured I should dedicate today’s retro review to the much beloved original. I reviewed the film after purchasing Criterion’s “Akira Kurosawa — Four Samurai Classics” Boxset, which included Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and my personal favorite, Sanjuro. The film is currently available not only in that set and as a standalone Criterion DVD, but also as a part of the Janus Films Presents Essential Arthouse collection, which is a “barebones” release of the same Criterion transfer at a much more affordable price.


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