The Hidden Fortress
“SO WHERE’S THE FORCE?”
A Video Review of The Hidden Fortress (1958)
Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker
Kakushi toride No San Akunin or The Hidden Fortress, as it is known in the United States, has long been touted as the inspiration for Star Wars. Having recently seen it I gotta say I have my doubts. To paraphrase that annoying old pitch woman for Wendy’s – “Where’s the Force?”
This samurai tale of a war hero trying to save his princess by using two farmers going home after being enslaved as a cover is pretty standard fair for the Japanese cinema at the time and only elevated by the direction of the master Akira Kurosawa and the always superior performance of Toshiro Mifume but Star Wars it ain’t.
There are similarities storywise, two bumblers, a rogue and a rescued princess but it ends there. The Hidden Fortress lacks a Luke Skywalker character who George Lucas freely admits is a product of ‘the hero’s journey’ postulated by Joseph Campbell I still find it hard to believe Lucas outfitted the rest of his cast from this film. While the relationship of the two farmers bears a slight resemblance to the antics of R2-D2 and C3PO so do Laurel and Hardy from most of their work.
The Hidden Fortress is an enjoyable two hours plus of vintage samurai cinema but Star Wars it ain’t.