Hey hey, I made a 10 minute podcast describing my experience with Akira Kurosawa’s film ‘The Hidden Fortress’. I personally loved this film and had a great time experiencing it. This experience has certainly broadened my views on films from other cultures, making me want to seek out films from other countries. Enjoy…
I came into this film with an open mind. Embracing all aspects of Japanese culture as much as I could. I had issues regarding subtitles and as you might hear in the podcast, trouble with the pronunciation of certain names. I’ve never watched a Japanese film, apart from some anime. I stay inside my cultural bubble and don’t usually search for anything to get me out of my comfort zone. After some research, I began to see the connection between Kurosawa’s films and some of the most well known western films today, such as Star Wars, The Magnificent Seven and a Fistful of Dollars.
Kurosawa directed, edited and wrote the screenplay for The Hidden Fortress (1958), showing his brilliance in filmmaking. Kurosawa won awards for the film, and was the 4th highest grossing film in that year in Japan. The Hidden Fortress was Kurosawa’s most successful film until the release of Yojimbo, a film directed by Kurosawa in 1961. He has been praised by various other directors, like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
This film wasn’t an enormous jump into the deep end, however it was a start. Being born in Australia in the very late 20th century, the main shock was the lack off colour. Black and white films aren’t completely foreign to me, however I don’t regularly seek them out. The next struggle was the subtitles. At times they distracted me from the film, but I got used to it as I kept watching. The Hidden Fortress showed off gorgeous landscapes of Japan, an incredible recreation of outfits and armour, stunning architecture and bits of Japanese culture. There were some notable differences that I spotted throughout the film which included dialogue, camera angles, direction and cultural. A lack of quick cuts compared to western films, drawing out the shots in an attempt to show of the beautiful landscapes and sets of Japan. There are various elements regarding morality and greed in this film. Kurosawa uses Matashichi and Tahei’s character arcs in order to discuss the greed surrounding humanity. These character arcs display Kurosawa’s belief that people have the potential to be morally good, with a slight push in the right direction. He uses strong female characters, the Princess was strong minded, aggressive and wise. General Rokurota was a strong, honourable and supportive as a character. However, Kurosawa decided to ensure that he didn’t portray the Yamana soldiers as the polar opposite of Rokurota. The soldiers were terrified at points in battles. General Hyoe Tadokoro, a general for the Yamana army, changes sides towards the end of the journey. Through these character decisions and arcs, Kurosawa is discussing the positions within war, through soldiers and higher ranks. As this film is 13 years after Hiroshima, Kurosawa shows his perspective on war.
The Hidden Fortress was a somewhat eye-opening experience for me. It introduced me into the world of Japanese film making and also showed the brilliance in films from decades before I was born. I’m looking forwards to experiencing the rest of Kurosawa’s films in the future.
Every Frame a Painting (2015) Akira Kurosawa – Composing Movement [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at:
The Hidden Fortress, Wikipedia [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hidden_Fortress
White, A (2001) The Hidden Fortress [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/117-the-hidden-fortress
Garcia, C G (2015) A Brief but Essential Introduction to Japanese Filmmaking: A Look at the Genres, Directors and Most Outstanding Works in Japanese Filmmaking [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: http://www.faena.com/aleph/articles/a-brief-but-essential-introduction-to-japanese-cinema/
D’Angelo, M (2014) AV Film: An influence on Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress is Kurosawa’s most fun film [online] Accessed 20th October, Available at: https://film.avclub.com/an-influence-on-star-wars-the-hidden-fortress-is-kuros-1798179895
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
The Hidden Fortress: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051808/?ref_=tt_ch
Seven Samurai: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047478/?ref_=nv_sr_1