The Hidden Fortress

The Hidden Fortress ★★★★★

Film #3 of the Star Wars: 40th Anniversary Hunt
Task #15: A film that inspired George Lucas' Star Wars

There are so many influences in Akira Kirosawa's samurai classic that it's hard to even count 'em.

The Hidden Fortress may not have a Darth Vader, Chewbacca, or Luke Skywalker, but you can see where Lucas got the ideas for Leia, Obi-Wan, and the two droids (here, in the form of two comical, whiny peasants, who legit steal the movie). There's a fine balance between good and evil, and there's a ton of lore and world-building set up in this film that it's surprising and kind of refreshing that a sequel was never made. Not every great movie warrants a sequel, you guys!

I've seen two Kirosawa movies now (this and Seven Samurai), and I may be in the minority, but I loved The Hidden Fortress more. As Seven Samurai had some of its ninja characters feel underdeveloped, this movie has well-defined lead characters that show their purpose in the conflict.

I do think the film is a few minutes too long (if some of the exposition scenes were trimmed it would have gotten the full 100 score), but The Hidden Fortress is definitely an essential, and from what I've seen, the Kirosawa film to beat. Any film that was a major part in the best space opera ever made deserves a special recommendation.


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