The Hidden Fortress

The Hidden Fortress ★★★★★

On first viewing, I was a little dismissive of The Hidden Fortress. Though I certainly enjoyed, I also felt it was a lesser Kurosawa adventure. That attitude isn't entirely fair. While certainly more escapist than something like Throne of Blood, the film is still loaded with Kurosawa's brand of class criticism. Like Seven Samurai, the film is largely about inescapable class divides and while The Hidden Fortress takes a more optimistic perspective, that sense of separation is all over the film. Really though, I think I just took the adventure elements of these movie for granted the first time around. The Hidden Fortress is truly a rollicking good time, with wonderful characters and a nicely epic sweep. Kurosawa's meticulous staging and cinematography is as wonderful as ever (dude makes great use of widescreen his first time working with it) and there are a handful of really amazing set-pieces. The fire dance ceremony is certainly a striking scene, but the samurai chase that gives way to a tense duel is probably my favourite scene. It's such a gripping battle and the way it unfolds is genuinely unexpected.

More than anything, it's just hard to argue with Kurosawa at this stage of his career. The dude was at the peak of his craft and his sensibilities as an action-adventure filmmaker remain unparalleled. The Hidden Fortress might not even crack my top five Kurosawa movies, but that probably says a lot more about his amazing body of work than anything. Anyone else would be proud to call this the best thing they ever made.

Daniel PG liked this review