Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kurosawa's influence looms large in this film

"KAKUSHI TORIDE NO SAN AKUNIN (THE HIDDEN FORTRESS)" seems at times like one of those 1940s serials -- filled with action, punctuated by madcap comic relief and lurching like an old roller coaster from one cliff-hanger to the next.
The 1958 film by AKIRA KUROSAWA clearly influenced GEORGE LUCAS and the making of the original "STAR WARS" film, I decided, while watching the Japanese film last night.
TOSHIRO MIFUNE plays General Rokurota Makabe, one of the last surviving samurai of the Akizuki clan, enlists the help of two greedy and almost entirely bumbling peasants, Tahei and Matashichi (familiar Kurosawa stock players MINORU CHIAKI and KAMATARI FUJIWARA), to smuggle a princess (MISA UEHARA) and the clan's remaining gold across enemy lines and into safer territory.
I could see clear parallels between the misadventures of the two peasants and the exploits of C-3PO and R2-D2 in "Star Wars."
Lucas made his bumbling pair helpful and loyal, however, in marked contrast to Kurosawa's peasants.
"Kakushi Toride no san Akunin" is thoroughly enjoyable. I highly recommend it!


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