Friday, January 27, 2023

The Hidden Fortress (Japan: Akira Kurosawa, 1958)

The Hidden Fortress (Japan: Akira Kurosawa, 1958: 139 mins)
A grand-scale adventure as only Akira Kurosawa could make one, The Hidden Fortress stars the inimitable Toshiro Mifune as a general charged with guarding his defeated clan’s princess (a fierce Misa Uehara) as the two smuggle royal treasure across hostile territory. Accompanying them are a pair of bumbling, conniving peasants who may or may not be their friends. This rip-roaring ride is among the director’s most beloved films and was a primary influence on George Lucas’s Star Wars. The Hidden Fortress delivers Kurosawa’s trademark deft blend of wry humor, breathtaking action, and compassionate humanity. -- Criterion's The Hidden Fortress page

"A Guide to Samurais and Cowboys." Metrograph (2023) ["The samurai and the cowboy—each towering icons of their respective “national” cinemas, the Japanese chambara, and the American Western—are frequently compared, both being elite fighting heroes who roam across a lawless landscape where violence and villainy run rampant, guided by a personal code that must be upheld at all costs. The two genres were born out of vastly different cultural contexts, and each has its own discrete iconography, most notably the samurai’s swords swords (daisho) and the Westerner’s six-shooter. Looking past surface differences, however, we can see two genres both concerned with principled warriors who frequently find themselves facing off against corrupt enemies in steely showdowns, confronting their own inner demons along the way. Like their Chinese counterparts in wuxia films—period-set martial arts movies depicting high-flown feats of derring-do, many of these influenced from the chambara—these warriors are resolute in purpose and indifferent to pain. They are willing (in theory, at least) to sacrifice their own lives to fulfil their duty with honor intact."]

"From the Kurosawa Archives." Current (March 23, 2017)

Lucas, George. "On Akira Kurosawa." Current (March 19, 2014)

Phipps, Keith. "The Hidden Fortress." The Dissolve (2014)

Russell, Catherine. "The Hidden Fortress: Three Good Men and a Princess." The Current (March 18, 2014)

White, Armond. "The Hidden Fortress." Current (May 21, 2001)

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