The Hidden Fortress

Ready for a really OLD classic? Remember, there is usually some good reason why a film is considered a classic!

Akira Kurosawa featured the durable (but hunky in his short-shorts WITH boots!) Japanese star Toshiro Mifune as an honor-bound samurai who has made a self-imposed commitment to return his stranded princess to her kingdom, along with a pile of gold. Kurosawa's admiration of American director John Ford is evident in the way he frames battles, presents approaching armies and films individual fight scenes. The unique thing about this movie however, has nothing to do with John Ford, it is the central focus on two unusual main characters.

Kurosawa presents this entire samurai sword and sandal epic through the eyes of a pair of conniving, bickering, back-stabbing thieves who are out to survive at all costs. It was this unusual spin that inspired George Lucas to feature R2D2 and C3PO in his Star Wars films. (His interview is one of the extras on the DVD.)

I found this movie to be a delight from beginning to end, even though it took just a tad of adjustment to the brash semi-shouts that Japanese language films use for routine dialogue. Otherwise, I enjoyed ogling the appealing Mifune, laughed at the craven ploys of the comic duo and enjoyed the various artifices our embattled little gang used to try to stay out of the clutches of the enemy. For one thing, the head-strong, outspoken princess was forced to pose as a mute! Of course, with Mifune being a samurai, many of those ploys consisted of "hiding in plain sight."

Loved it!