Mar 23, 2016

27th March 2016; Kurosawa's HIDDEN FORTRESS

A film bu Akira Kurosawa
1958/ Jpan/ 39 minutes
27th March /5.45pm / Perks Mini Theater

The Hidden Fortress is a comedy-action epic. It  playfully treats themes that Kurosawa could turn into the grimmest of anatomizations of human nature. Toshiro Mifune is at the fore, but the real focus of the story is on a pair of escaped thieves who, despite their initial bickerings, soon become friends of an almost co-dependent nature. They are captured, but manage to escape in a prisoner riot and go hide in the mountains. While there, they come across two unexpected surprise - gold.

There are many laugh out loud moments in Hidden Fortress, thanks to the dimwitted pair's antics and the use of Mifune's blustering bravado to intimidate and annoy them.In addition, the film also bears some of Kurosawa's finest action sequences since Yojimbo, which include Mifune chasing down two escaping enemies on horseback with a two-handed grip katana smackdown at the end of the ride, and a protracted but excellent spear Deul between Rokurota and a general of the opposing army.

The Hidden Fortress was cited by George Lucas as the basis of Star Wars—chiefly in the way the story unfolds through the eyes of two comic characters. Kurosawa has differentiated The Hidden Fortress from nearly every similar feudal era Japanese epic ever committed to the screen. THE HIDDEN FORTRESS should leave you with a smile on your face and almost wishing it would keep going.

Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa was the youngest of seven children, born in Tokyo on 23 March 1910. A talented painter, he enrolled in an art school that emphasized Western styles. Around this time he also joined an artists' group with a great enthusiasm for nineteenth-century Russian literature, with Dostoevsky a particular favourite. Another influence was Heigo, one of his brothers, who loved film and worked as a benshi, a film narrator/commentator for foreign silent films. His suicide deeply affected the director's sensibilities.

In 1930 he responded to a newspaper advertisement for assistant directors at a film studio and began assisting Kajiro Yamamoto, who liked the fact he knew 'a lot about things other than movies'. Within five years he was writing scripts and directing whole sequences for Yamamoto films. In 1943 he made his debut as a director with Judo Saga (Sanshiro Sugata), with a magnificent martial-arts sequence.
His early films were produced during the Second World War, so had to comply to themes prescribed by official state propaganda policy. It was Drunken Angel which was Kurosawa's first personally expressive work, made in 1948 and featuring Toshiro Mifune who became Kurosawa's favourite leading man.

For those who discover Kurosawa, they will find a master technician and stylist, with a deep humanism and compassion for his characters and an awe of the enormity of nature. He awakened the West to Japanese cinema with Rashomon, which won the top prize in the Venice Film Festival of 1951, and also a special Oscar for best foreign film. A golden period followed, with the West enthralled by his work. Seven Samurai, Yojimbo etc.

A true auteur, he supervised the editing of nearly all his films and wrote or collaborated on the scripts of most. His memoirs were published in 1982, titled Something like an Autobiography. In 1989 he won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. Kurosawa died in 1998.

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