Friday, July 1, 2011

Adventure film 4: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Master of Japanese film Akira Kurosawa gives us our fourth adventure film with the "100% entertainment" of The Hidden Fortress (1958), starring Toshiro Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. Click the image below to listen to the podcast (23.8 MB, 1 hour 5 mins).

Recorded Sunday 26 June 2011, edited by Murray Ewing.

Notes & Errata: Rashomon won the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion in 1951.

Purchase the DVD from Amazon UK: The Hidden Fortress (1958).


  1. Another enjoyable program and you covered so many points very well. It was the perfect followup movie to Treasure. What I didn't spot in the trailer for this film, was just how funny 'Hidden Fortress' would be. Tahei and Matshichi were a riot. And it was all genuine comedy, created out of the situation.

    I totally missed the swipe, and I have seen Star Wars many times. So I didn't click on that as reminding me of ST. But I did click on seeing Tahei and Matshichi, being like C-3PO and R2-D2. I also saw a hint of Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in General Rokurota, and Darth Vader in General Tadokoro. Trying not to give anything way, the end scene where they gathered also reminded me a bit of the end of Star Wars. And the face of Tadokoro reminded me of the unmasked Vader.

    The scene going up the mountain slope was very effective, as I could feel it. But I was wondering what kind of rock that reminded me of. When you mentioned it was filmed by Mount Fuji, then it made sense. I believe that was a Pumice rock slope. Pumice is a rather soft rock, that's so light in weight, the rocks will float on water. It is that light colour too, and loose to walk on, but not as damaging to ones legs, at other rocks could be. Common around volcanic areas, so I think that was what that was. I seen cliffs like that, one by a place called Crater Lake.

    I'll have to watch again, but I don't recall actually seeing a gun, at least, not close-up. I came away remembering the sound of bullets firing and seeing them hit, but not an actual gun. Nice relief.

    I did really love the fact I don't remember seeing any special effects. Only real scenes, well acted and directed. Interesting you mentioning how they had to make the fight scene have a better view for the cinema. It sort of look like what I would like to call, a Japanese Ballet. It was poetic in movement, with everyone moving with the fight. If you know of any other films that feature similar fight scenes, but you feel look more real, or just good in general, I would be interested.

    Seeing the full journey of Princess Yuki, had hints of the Princess (played by Audrey Hepburn) in Roman Holiday (1953). I took a look at their photos on IMB, and even though, totally different backgrounds, both actresses have similar looks. Interesting they both end up seeing the world in their films, and having their awaking, before going back to their Princess world.

    There was nothing weak about Princess Yuki. Liked seeing Princess Yuki using the forest around her as a weapon.

    With in Treasure having Howard trying to get the guys to eat more beans, I was amazed how many times Tahei and Matshichi cooked Japanese rice, but I don't think they ever ate or finished cooking a single pot. I have to check that when I see it again.

    I will be listening to this podcast and enjoying this film more, and place more of Akira's films on the must see list. I have seen some, but not all. (And yes on the foreign account, I think either of you could spot a typical American at any of your train platforms. ;-)

    For now, watching Lawrence to get ready for you next podcast! (TCM will be showing Lawrence on the 12th of July here.)

  2. Yes, you're right about the scene with Princess Yuki using the forest to fend off the farmers — pity we didn't mention it, because it was an excellent scene, both comic and showing revealing of the characters.

  3. Forgot to note... I looked up what was Hitchcock's first colour film and found it was a 1948 film called 'Rope' starring James Stewart. I never seen it.

  4. Ah yes. Rope was the one he tried to do in as few long, continuous takes as possible.

  5. I looked up Rashomon and the award apparently was Golden Lion from Venice.

  6. Ah - I knew it was the Golden something!

    Thanks for your detailed comment, Linda. I'm not sure I agree about the Tadokoro/Vader comparison, though I suppose a rather stretched case could be made for it.

    One story I meant to mention about Misa Uehara that I really like is about the scene where she stands atop the ridge, looking back at her lands and cries. She had trouble crying and the film crew tried everything to get the tears flowing, even onions! The thing that eventually worked was that she saw the sun going down and realised that she was keeping everyone from going home as they all waited for her - that did the trick.

    Murray edited out a bit where I tried to remember a Chaplin quote about coincidence (coincidence is mentioned in the podcast), but I couldn't remember it. It came to me the next morning - "I don't mind coincidence, life is coincidence! It's a problem only when it's convenient." (paraphrasing). I think he said it in respect of 'A Woman of Paris'.

    And yes, Rope - super film.