Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 by Bryan Young
(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films and television properties that inspired George Lucas’ iconic universe. In this edition: The classic Kurosawa film The Hidden Fortress.)
When people talk about the cinematic influences of Star Wars, the first movie that will come out of most mouths will be Flash Gordon. The second, though, is almost always Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 classic The Hidden Fortress. This film tells the tale of Japanese peasants trying to escape a war between provinces and find themselves aiding a general and a princess on the run. Although there are lines and shots lifted straight out of The Hidden Fortress that made their way into A New Hope, legend grew about how influential it really was to the first Star Wars films. I find the more interesting parallels come out in the prequels. The film is undoubtedly one of Kurosawa’s masterpieces, a breathless adventure film fused with heart and humor. It was also his first to be shot in an anamorphic format, ushering in an all new look for his films moving forward. And, although George Lucas undersells the influence on Star Wars, there’s no denying that its impact was indelible.