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117 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A phenomenal film in everyway
I have to confess my bias at the start: Akira Kurosawa is easily one of my two or three favorite directors. If forced to sit down and do a list of my 25 favorite films, SEVEN SAMURAI would be in a tie for first, and two or three others would join it on the list.
This was the first movie that Kurosawa made that was widescreen, and therefore the first that will...
Published on May 19, 2001 by Robert Moore

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Good, the Bad and the Mediocre sides of Kurosawa
The Hidden Fortress has some major problems with pacing and overlength. The first 15 minutes dealing with the aftermath of a war are great and the last hour is pretty good, but the hour of repetitive bickering and clumsy slapstick inbetween from the film's two unlovable clowns is incredibly grating. Yes, it's a bold move of Kurosawa to give centerstage to a couple of...
Published on January 6, 2006 by Trevor Willsmer


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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars classic kurosawa, September 2, 2009
loved watching this and started to watch others of kurosawa also. i can see where lucas got idea from star wars. theres no doubt that the classic movies have more than todays movies.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How Would It Look in Color?, August 26, 2006
By 
Robert Payne (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I love black & white movies! It's a form of cinema that's becoming increasingly less appreciated as the years go by. In fact, I like black & white movies so much that there are some contemporary films that I watch on DVD by switching off my TV set's color. Yes, I'm just that nutty about monochrome!

Now, having waxed rhapsodic in various places about how one color film or another should have been made in black & white, I thought that I would give some equal time to the opposite: a monochrome film that might have been better in color. Of course, for me, they're hard to find. But I did come up with one: Akira Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress," a film that could have easily been shot in TohoColor when it was made in 1958.

I've seen most of Kurosawa's films, and of the bunch, "The Hidden Fortress" is the least serious -- and maybe because of that, one of the least satisfying. Now, substandard Kurosawa would still be better than the best of many directors that I can think of. And if "The Hidden Fortress" were directed by any other pre-New Wave Japanese filmmaker, it would probably stand out as a rollicking good yarn. But since this movie is by the same demanding director who gave the world "Rashômon" (1950), "The Seven Samurai" (1954), and "High and Low" (1963), its fluffiness is a wee bit disappointing. Indeed, the only story element that sets "The Hidden Fortress" apart from a run-of-the-mill chambara (i.e., Japanese sword-fight movie) is its celebrated focus on two comical, selfish scavengers, played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara, rather than on movie-star Toshiro Mifune's heroic incognito general.

Kurosawa is reported to have said that he wanted "The Hidden Fortress" to be a "fairy tale," to be without the penetrating social criticisms that mark so many of his other works. If this modest goal is what he set out to do, he achieved it. But I think that the black & white cinematography lends the film a weight and seriousness that it neither warrants nor needs. Color would have brought out the make-believe qualities of the story. Polychrome photography would have lushly enhanced the spectacle of the village fire festival, the movie's centerpiece extravaganza. And color would have certainly burnished the film's uncynical happy ending, an occurrence all too rare in a Kurosawa work. If nothing else, it would just be nice to have a Kurosawa-Mifune collaboration in color.

But I know why "The Hidden Fortress" is in black & white. Kurosawa didn't like the movies' various color processes back in the 1950s and early '60s, so he didn't make a color film until 1970's "Dodes'kaden." Also, "The Hidden Fortress" was the director's first feature in a widescreen format (TohoScope), and it might have been unrealistic to ask him to master two technological changes at once (though I doubt it). Besides, Kurosawa might have had a point: in black & white, "The Hidden Fortress" looks less dated than some of its chambara contemporaries do in color.

I'm not calling for "The Hidden Fortress" to be colorized (I regard colorizing movies as a kind of vandalism). And I can't think of another Kurosawa black & white that I would want to want to see in color. In fact, I tip my hat to the Japanese master for holding onto monochrome for as long as he did (I'm sure that he must have faced pressure from the studio higher-ups to shoot in color). I'm particularly jazzed that his "Yojimbo" (1961) is in black & white: monochrome helps to bring out the story's hard-edged, noirish cynicism. Also, it's worth mentioning that when Kurosawa eventually turned to color later in his career, when color reproduction on film finally met his demanding standards, he and his cinematographers employed it brilliantly.

While not premium Kurosawa, "The Hidden Fortress" is still worth checking out as a rental. Although in black & white, it's a very colorful movie.
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11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CROUCHING SAMURAI, HIDDEN FORTRESS, June 3, 2001
By 
Daniel S. "Daniel" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Thanks to Criterion, here is another title that will find its place in your library : Akira Kurosawa's HIDDEN FORTRESS. Shot in Tohoscope and in b&w, this 1958 action film may easily be compared to any Hollywood movies of the late fifties. In fact, HIDDEN FORTRESS is superior to most of the american productions of that period for a simple reason : Akira Kurosawa had a personal style very recognizable while Hollywood directors were very often only yes-men hired by producers for their technical skills.
The first 5 minutes of HIDDEN FORTRESS are already a moment of anthology. As well as the duel scene involving a fabulous Toshiro Mifune. The cinematography is gorgeous, Akira Kurosawa filming a wide variety of landscapes under the sun, the rain, in the fog, by day and by night : simply stunning. If you are not familiar with japanese movies, HIDDEN FORTRESS or YOJIMBO, also available in the Criterion Collection, could be an excellent introduction to this cinema that has produced numerous masterpieces.
As bonus features, a trailer and a 10 minutes interview with George Lucas recorded in january 2001. The american producer confirms that HIDDEN FORTRESS had a great influence on him while he was writing the Luke Skywalker saga. Movie lovers had already noticed it a long time ago.
A DVD zone reference.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Fortress - Criterion Collection by Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, May 20, 2008
This review is from: The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
"The Hidden Fortress" is interesting primarily because it gave George Lucas ideas for "Star Wars". which is why I got it, the influence is obvious. An interesting combat scenes with Toshirô Mifune (mounted & dismounted w/spear).
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favirotes, October 16, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
A great movie on a great DVD. This is one of my favirote films of all time. It is finally good to see a widely available version on a clean cut DVD. A good jumping on point for new Kurosawa fans. Check it out!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inmensely entertaining !, September 29, 2004
This review is from: The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
A strong-willed princess is supported by his wise , his Pygmalion , and sword -wielding protector (Toshiro Mifune).

George Lucas has admmited this film influenced him in his famous Stars Wars trilogy.

Kurosawa once more is overwhelming with this haunting story . There is violence but the weight of the script in itself justifies by far this element ; the camera work , the ralentis , and arresting images make of this film another classical issue of this radiant genius of the cinema
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid., December 31, 2003
By 
Dhaval Vyas (Dallastown, PA U.S.A) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Another solid film from the Japanese master Kurosawa. Watch for the ceremony that happens near the end of the movie. I didn't know they had ceremonies like that in Japan!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I didn't order it and there's no way to un-order it even though I didn't watch it., September 6, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I did not order this. I have not watched it. I can't find a way to get it off my card.15.00.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good adventure, but a little dated., November 23, 2004
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This review is from: The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I really like this movie. Toshiro Mifune attempts to restore the princess and her realm. They carry a hidden treasure through many dangers. They win in the end, with the help of (or despite the help of) a pair of somewhat loyal but dim-witted and venal retainers.

George Lucas claims that this helped inspire the original Star Wars movie. Don't look for an exact replica, though, the inspiration wasn't that direct. That just makes it more enjoyable, though, trying to figure out which moments in Hidden Fortress went into Star Wars, and how.

It's black and white - something I like, as a change, and I'm very glad it wasn't corrupted by colorization. The acting style is a bit posed and un-natural, by today's standards, but wasn't written to meet today's standards. Maybe the harshness in the princess' voice was meant to convey authority, but just sounded shrill to me. Well, the movie conveys the time in which it was made, not just the time it depicts, and I like that look back to recent movie-making history.

It's a good movie by itself, and important in the history of movies. Today's attention-deficient action junkies may find it slow at times, but that's hardly the fault of the movie. I like this one, and I'm sure I'll like it again when I see it again.

//wiredweird
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quiet adventure that needs no Lucas, September 29, 2002
By 
Paul Broadstone Jr. (North Little Rock, AR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
The making and premise of Hidden Fortress shows again Kurosawa's ability to display stories for a vast audience. Almost with comedy as his goal he starts the movie (much like Yojimbo but, without the biting parody and satire) from the perspective of two very off-beat characters (played to perfection by two famous actors in the Kurosawa acting guild). And too, much like another movie, Seven Samurai, Toshiro Mufine's character doesn't really come into the movie until later (also adding to the subtle comedy and interaction with the, as Lucas says in the dvd extra "the R2-D2 and C3PO character sketch"). The cast is good but if you look too closely you might become annoyed with the young princess at first, but lucky for her it's played out well by Mufine and another actress in a smaller role (who protects her from the two main off-beat characters in a moment of perversion). All the characters in the movie are cast very well and each one seems to have his/her friend/enemy. For instance, the opposing general that takes on Mufine in a long (and somewhat funny) spear duel. Over all one can't help but to like this movie for what it is: a coming of age story mixed with an escaping from difficult odds mixed with the comedy of errors and finding allies in unexpected characters. However, after the veiwing of the really unneeded Lucas extra, you could easily pick out the obvious inspirations/stealing? of the film that ran over into the Star Wars films (probably to the chagrin of the die hard Star Wars nerd, yes, 'ol George just didn't make it up on his own, but much like John Woo does, he, for lack of a better word "borrows" from the "true" source, and then mixes into the fray all sorts of other "borrowed" material). There really is only one thing that didn't sit well with me in this dvd and that is probably the same reason 50% of consumers bought this movie: to see what they heard was the main inspiration to the great George Lucas archives. But, you wanna know something, I really don't care. [...] This is only one film among the greats out of the country of Japan (and many of us are still waiting for "real material" to be included on these special dvd's). Who of us wouldn't long for "Dreams" or a special release of Kurosawa's early films? Nevermind the countless rip-offs of the Japanese cinema, let's go back to the basics and do another great release like the awe-inspiring Criterion Seven Samuria or Rashomon.... After reading Donald Ritchie's book on Kurosawa you can see the influence of the Noh theater in Hidden Fortress. One of Kurosawa's early works was this movie called "They Who Step On The Tiger's Tail", and this movie (The Hidden Fortress) is a possible remake of the older period piece which is also famous in the Kabuki and Noh plays. Though here, in this dvd, Kurosawa had more freedom to do as he pleased as a director not inhibited by govermental or military censorship. The movie itself is a mixing (or clash) of modern and ancient ideals. Kurosawa's lighthearted drama is a great movie to watch in these respects. It's only too bad this (and a whole bunch of other fine material) wasn't included on the dvd format. Only if the obvious Lucas plug was taken out, then we could have had something of real interest to watch and learn. And perhaps this is too much to ask the mega-corporate Criterion, who have re-released so many movies. Perhaps a more fresh approach by another company not just interested in profit would give us in the appreciative audience something to rant about.
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The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection)
The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection) by Akira Kurosawa (DVD - 2001)
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