|The Hidden Fortress (DVD, 2001, Criterion Collection) (DVD, 2001)|
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|Akira Kurosawa's THE HIDDEN FORTRESS Toshiro Mifune Criterion Collection DVD|
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Average review score based on 8 user reviews
of customers recommend this product
I have to confess my bias at the start: Akira Kurosawa is easily one of my two or three favorite directors. If forced to sit down and do a list of my 25 favorite films, SEVEN SAMURAI would be in a tie for first, and two or three others would join it on the list.
This was the first movie that Kurosawa made that was widescreen, and therefore the first that will derive maximum benefit from DVD. (Read through the early reviews of the DVD of SEVEN SAMURAI to see some of the confusion over this.) His use of the wider angle is magnificent, presenting the view with extraordinary vistas again and again. Kurosawa never seemed to struggle with the technical aspects of filmmaking, and would later make a similarly effortless transition to color.
This is one of Kurosawa's finest films. It is difficult to say that it is his best, since his very best films are among the greatest ever made. Suffice it to say, that the film bears in every way the mark of greatness. The camera work is flawless. Though black and white, the film is gorgeous to look at every moment. The acting is impeccable, with Mifune giving a somewhat difference performance in this one. If we are more accustomed to think of him as a more fiery character, as in RASHOMON or SEVEN SAMURAI or THRONE OF BLOOD, in this one he is magisterial and aristocratic.
I think the parallels to STAR WARS are rather overblown, and anyone coming to this film looking for tones of George Lucas rather than Akira Kurosawa just may find themselves disappointed. Yes, there is a princess, and yes, there are some very small plot parallels, and yes, there are two comic characters included to provide light entertainment and to move the plot along. But none of these are crucial elements of THE HIDDEN FORTRESS.
But I do think the STAR WARS references bring up a very interesting point about Kurosawa: more than anyother foreign filmmaker in history, Kurosawa is the one with the easist relationship with American culture. People who normally dislike foregin film can respond powerfully to his films. I once showed SEVEN SAMURAI to a group of high school boys. These kids were almost in a state of mutiny, because 1) the film was black and white and 2) it was subtitled. But by the end of the evening they were all entranced and had become fans of the film.
I think the reason they responded so easily was partly because Kurosawa was a cinematic genius, but also because he had absorbed so much of American culture and film technique in his films. Just as many American films have borrowed directly from his work, so he borrowed from American sources. Many of his films bear evidence of extensive exposure to film noir and American Westerns, and several of his plots are borrowed from American and Western sources. One example: much has been made of the fact that A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS was based on Kurosawa's YOJIMBO, but it is not as often noted that YOJIMBO was based on Dashiell Hammett's RED HARVEST, in which the Continental Op goes to the town of Personville (or, as a Brooklyn-accented character in the book pronounces it, Poisonville) and turns two warring criminal factions against each other.
But if you haven't seen this film, do so. Without any question one of Kurosawa's very finest films.
One of the best samurai movies ever made. Directed by Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune, this saga has influenced generations of movie makers. The acting is uniformly excellent, there's a great soundtrack, and the cinematography is legendary. It's a great story. Don't miss it. [Also, watch out for pirated versions of this movie. Stick to the Criterion Collection for best results.]
This is a great movie. Even if you don't care for, or are unfamiliar with Japanese cinema. The storyline is great, the actors are wonderful, and the director incomparable. People rave about the Seven Samurai and it is a incredible movie but this movie is also excellent.
an incredible movie and the inspiration for the original star wars. one of kurosawa's best. Toshiro Mifune gives a great performance and the cinematography is incredibly beautiful and well composed.
ignore the naysayers and see this much under-rated kurosawa/mifune classic. a lot more fun than most with just enough action.