"I do not mind dying, Rokurota. I have enjoyed happiness which I could never have known in the castle. I have seen people in their true form, and beauty and ugliness with my own eyes. I thank you, Rokurota. Now I may die without regret."
- Princess Yukihime (Misa Uehara) to General Rokurota Makabe (Toshirô Mifune)
"I trust their greed. They will do anything if they are saddled with gold."
- General Makabe, regarding the farmers
Total Film - 03/01/2002
"...[The film] blends intimate characterisation with vast vistas....The CinemaScope cinematography lends sweep..."
During a civil war in 16th-century feudal Japan, two cowardly farmers (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara) stumble upon Makabe (Toshirô Mifune), a fierce army general. Escaping from hostile territory, General Makabe embarks on a mission to rescue both Yukihime (Misa Uehara), the willfull princess of his ruling house, and the royal fortune. In the selfish hopes of finding the gold, the two misfits accompany the hardened soldier through dangerous mountain passes.
In addition to its status as one of Akira Kurosawa's finest films, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS is especially notable for its influence on director George Lucas's STAR WARS. Lucas admittedly borrowed much from Kurosawa's lighthearted epic; the two bickering misfits were the inspiration for R2-D2 and C-3PO, while Princess Leia was largely patterned after the feisty Lady Yukihime. Both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo contain elements of General Makabe, but neither character matches Mifune's disciplined ferocity.
This superb Japanese adventure film centers around a faithful but cynical general who, with the aid of two eccentric, oddball farmers, helps a headstrong princess safely cross a dangerous wasteland.
Theatrical release: December 28, 1958.
Shot on location at Mount Fuji, Japan.
Disastrous weather marred much of the film's production, causing the 10-day location shoot to go hundreds of days over schedule. However, it ended up doing extremely well upon its release in Japan, proving to be one of Kurosawa's most financially successful films.
THE HIDDEN FORTRESS was director Akira Kurosawa's last film for Toho Studios. After this film, he formed his own production company.
THE HIDDEN FORTRESS was awarded the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
Kurosawa also won the International Film Critics Award for Best Director.
The original version of the movie was 139 minutes. When the film was exported, the running time was cut down to 126 minutes.