In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
The story follows two greedy peasants in feudal Japan, Tahei and Matashichi, who are returning home from a failed attempt to profit from a war between neighboring clans. En Route they encounter the remnants of the defeated tribe that consists, most notably, of a famous General and a Princess who are hiding out in a fortress in the mountains. General Rokurota Makabe and Princess Yuki need to escape into allied territory with their large supply of gold so that they can rebuild their shattered clan. To do this the Peasants are tricked into helping them, with the promise that they will receive a large share of the gold when the destination is reached. Along the way, the General's prowess is put to the test as he must guide the 4, and later 5 with the inclusion of a freed slave, through close encounters with the pursuing enemy, and out of difficult situations the bumbling peasants manage to get them into.Written by
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #116. See more »
At 1 hour and 3 minutes, when the two peasants are trying to mime a message to the princess (whom they think is mute), you can see the shadow of a crew member's arm moving quickly in the lower left hand corner of the frame. See more »
Get away from me! You stink of dead bodies!
Give it up. We both stink of dead bodies. And it's all your fault!
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The Hidden Fortress is the Kurosawa film with the lightest tone. It's almost the most mainstream and entertaining. So for those who may have found other Kurosawa films to be too deep and poetic (if this applies to you, you're a fool) you'll be more likely to enjoy this. Even though there's a lot of comedy, mostly provided by the peasants, The Hidden Fortress still has all the power and uniqueness that all Kurosawa films have.
There are some amazing locations used. The rock slide provided for some real amusement. Toshiro Mifune gives a much more toned down and subtle performance than we normally see from him. What Mifune offers in Hidden Fortress is true screen presence. Without even saying a word he has your full attention. I love how Kurosawa plays the characters as well. The Princess is not a damsel in distress. In any American or British film of the 50s, she would have been nothing more than that. In this she's quiet for most of the movie, but then she'll come out of nowhere and show more power and confidence than The General. The peasant characters of Tahei and Matakishi are more than comic relief. They are primarily used for a laugh, but I thought there characters were unique as well. The story is told from their point of view, and they are essentially heroes, yet they do nothing but complain. They're greedy and selfish. These aren't characteristics that would normally be used for heroes, but Kurosawa makes them likeable to the audience. Some people have said this movie needed more action. I think the action it has is more than enough. The chase scene that leads into The General's encounter with his nemesis remains one of the best sequences Kurosawa ever Directed. The choreography in the swordfight holds up against most of The Seven Samurai's fight scenes, and it still tops the type of fights that have become tedious and repetitive in modern day movies. That fight is a great example of how to nail the Hero vs. Villain energy. Akira Kurosawa can do no wrong.
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