Ali Abdul-Karim’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Hidden Fortress
#325TH Film Of 2020
My 9th Akira Kurosawa film. In fact at the time of writing, 29th June, I have already seen 11 Kurosawa films, but The Hidden Fortress was my 9th.
I’m sure it’s no surprise to any of you who have read some of my reviews, looked through my extensive collection of lists or read through my bio, that I love Akira Kurosawa. He’s without a doubt one of the greatest filmmakers to have ever lived and his films have had such an astounding effect on myself and on cinema. The Hidden Fortress was one of Kurosawa’s films that I’d wanted to see for a long while but never had the opportunity to, many know of the fact that it greatly inspired Lucas’ Star Wars and that many aspects of the plot were taken from The Hidden Fortress, that further intrigued me. I recently picked up a box set from the BFI, Kurosawa samurai collection, which includes this film along with Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood, all of which I’ve seen however on these Blu Rays Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood remain un-watched. Since the set included the film and I’d passed it on the curated order I’m following (by Daisuke Beppu) I watched it.
The Hidden Fortress has such an entertaining and instantly electrifying opening. It’s hilarious and suddenly shocking and then you’re gripped, that’s how Kurosawa does it, luring you in and trapping you with excellent filmmaking, great cinematography, and some great comedy sprinkled in.
The two characters that are introduced to us are one of cinema’s greatest and funniest duos without a doubt. One of the many reasons I’d love to return to this film is just to spend some more time with these 2 guys. They’re constantly getting themselves into trouble, whether it be by their stupidity, their constant arguing or something entirely random. And of course how can one not be reminded of another great duo, C3PO and R2D2.
The film moves at quite a pace and when things slow down about after the first 20 minutes you feel like so much has already happened, there’s no wasted time and I was kept engaged for that whole mini ride. During this slower transitionary period Mifune’s character is introduced and the moment he appears on screen, and actually at quite a distance away from the camera, he just takes over. He has such a screen presence. I find it to be a very challenging task to rank my favorite films and even harder with actors so I haven’t done something like that for actors, but if I did have a top 10, Mifune would certainly be on it. The best of his performances so far is in High and Low.
The sense of mystery throughout this film was great particularly at the Hidden Fortress and the ending was fantastically exhilarating and the comedy that’s present throughout and at the end is just one of a kind. The relationship between those 2 was just done so well.
Thank you Kurosawa for another treat and I’d be very happy to return to this film at a later date for a fresh experience and a burst of excitement.
🔙 The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t
🔜 It Happened One Night