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Criterion Collection: Hidden Fortress [DVD] [1958] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Toshirô Mifune , Misa Uehara , Akira Kurosawa    DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product details

  • Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara, Susumu Fujita
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Ryûzô Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto
  • Producers: Akira Kurosawa, Sanezumi Fujimoto
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 22 May 2001
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005B1ZL
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,345 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



In one of the many classic collaborations between director Akira Kurosawa and his leading man Toshirô Mifune, this 1958 film tells the story of a warrior and a princess trying against all odds to return to their homeland with their fortune. Along the way, they are simultaneously assisted and thwarted by two itinerant and not-too-bright farmers with their own designs on the treasure, giving the story a subtle comic bent. Acknowledged by George Lucas as the inspiration for Star Wars (note the similarities, especially the comic duo who are the models for R2D2 and C3PO), Hidden Fortress combines an epic tale of struggle and honour with modern comic sensibilities, creating a masterful addition to world cinema. --Robert Lane,


It is as though Bunuel had made The Mark Of imaginative, so funny, so tender, and so sophisticated. -- Donald Richie, The Films Of Akira Kurosawa

The movie that confirmed Kurosawa's greatest strength, his innovative handling of genre. --Time Out

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Hidden Fortress is an outstanding example of Akira Kurosawa's film-making style, clear and simple. Although not as well known as the classics 'Seven Samurai' or 'Yojimbo', this film deserves to be rated among his finest. The narrative is both quick and engaging never allowing your attention to wander. This was Kurosawa's first widescreen film and he seems to revel in the new width of his canvas, without over indulging in the space. The performances are excellent with Toshiro Mifune in one of his finest roles, the two bickering slaves are wonderful. This film was in fact the inspiration for Star Wars and these two slaves are easily recognisable as the droids from George Lucas' Sci-Fi tale. I would recommend this film to any fan of Mifune's or Kurosawa's work as they are at their best in this picture. If you not aware of either of this pairing, do not allow that to put you off. Buy it, sit back and enjoy what is a delightful adventure that will hold you from beginning to end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once seen, never forgotten 5 Jun 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Some films offer the Wow Factor first time round. Some get into your bloodstream only on repeated viewing. Only the very best films manage to do both, and this is one.

I have loved this film at the first, second, third and fourth times of watching. The story is 'basic' as George Lucas rightly observes - in his short but illuminating interview which is the BFI DVD's sole Extra he makes the clear point that there are only a mere handful of stories to tell - but that's not what's important.

So what makes it great? First and foremost Kurosawa's wide-angle visual imagination is as stunning as Toshiro Mifune's acting. What could be more memorable, for example, as the panoramic shot early on where a huge band of naked, shave-headed slaves being whipped one way, runs into a similar band being whipped the other? The aftermath of war has rarely been portrayed with such astute, black humour. Indeed a kind of grim, death's-head comedy underlies the whole film, allied of course to the fairy-tale delicacy of the story-telling.

And how wonderful to have a historical epic like this - with its samurai duels, adventures and folk festivals - told from the perspective of the little people at the bottom (the two peasants) rather than the princesses and generals. The magic is, that it simultaneously shows how the ivory-tower Princess herself learns about ordinary life, and learns to love it: the whirling dance of the fire-festival, where she dances incognito amongst her people, is perhaps the most moving event of the whole film, as well as its plot pivot.

This is a marvel, beautifully paced with fast action sequences (in John Ford style) alternating with short, beautiful lyrical interludes. It's part Shakespearean romance, part Samurai epic, and part Japanese Ealing Comedy! At all events, once seen it will never be forgotten.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original Star Wars 21 Dec 2004
Having watched many of Kurosawa's films, I was interested in Hidden Fortress, because I had heard that George Lucus borrowed its plot for the original Star Wars film.
I bought the film hastily, but have not regretted it at all.
It is a little light-hearted than his other films such as Rashomon and Seven Samurai, but this makes it all the more enjoyable, as does the fact that is hard to see where the film is going to lead you.
The 2.35:1 effect works brill on a widescreen TV, capturing Mount Fuji in all its glory.
As with many Kurosawa films, Toshiro Mifune is a central character, but its the two peasants that steal the show.
Buy it, watch it, and see for yourself what made George Lucus make Star Wars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
The Hidden Fortress has some major problems with pacing and overlength. The first 15 minutes dealing with the aftermath of a war are great and the last hour is pretty good, but the hour of repetitive bickering and clumsy slapstick inbetween from the film's two unlovable clowns is incredibly grating. Yes, it's a bold move of Kurosawa to give centerstage to a couple of greedy, stupid, duplicitous and all but irredeemable scumbags, but unfortunately he neglected to make them particularly interesting greedy, stupid, duplicitous and all but irredeemable scumbags and there's only so much of them shouting, digging holes and performing pratfalls you can take. It might help if some of it was funny, but it's like watching a Bowery Boys movie from the days when they should have been drawing their pensions instead of still pretending to be teenagers.

Themes of honor and compassion are dealt with in passing as nominal hero Mifune fails to appreciate the preciousness of all life, not just that of the princess he is sworn to protect, but this is pure popcorn fodder with more than a touch of Vera Cruz about it (but none of it's economy of line), as evidenced by George Lucas lifting elements for his first Star Wars film. Oddly enough the influence on John Milius is far more noticeable than Lucas - the scene where Mifune chases two soldiers on horseback and cuts them down without leaving his saddle is clearly the inspiration for the fight on the beach in The Wind and the Lion (even the music is similarly orchestrated). It gets there in the end, but it takes its time about it.

The BFI's UK PAL disc is light on extras - only a very half-hearted appreciation by George Lucas, who obviously doesn't think much of the film these days. Annoyingly, the subtitles are constantly presented over the picture area rather than on the black borders of the 2.35:1 widescreen transfer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this film!
One of the best films from Kurosawa. The main plot is really well filmed and acted, and the 2 idiots are hilarious!
Published 27 days ago by Peter G
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden fortress
A really good film which was one of the inspirations for the Star Wars films, but you do need to concentrate a bit. the acting is excellent.
Published 7 months ago by Auntie M
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, Intimate, Wryly Comic ..... Typical Kurosawa
This 1958 'period' film directed (and co-written) by Akira Kurosawa is something of an archetype of much of the man's film-making, a 'style' probably most famously encapsulated in... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Keith M
2.0 out of 5 stars Hidden Fortress
I first watched this film back in 2006 when I bought it new for £10.99 (the cheapest online deal I could find). The title was very difficult to find as few places sold it then. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Chockobo
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa's Masterpiece
A lot of talk has been about how George Lucas used the plot for this film in his first Star Wars film. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Joan Dark
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars, a recurrent rating for Kurosawa movies.
Should wait until I have more time to write a real review, but may as well give my opinion whilst I got the chance. Read more
Published on 19 July 2010 by G J Woodward
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab - but where is Star Wars?
Any of Kurosawa's films are worthwhile but this is lighter and more accessible than his previous work. Read more
Published on 9 May 2010 by Young Master Chuzzwick
3.0 out of 5 stars Forms the basis of much that is in Starwars
I watched this directly after watching Kurosawa's much later `Ran' (1985). What a difference! The tone of `The Hidden Fortress' (1958) is much more light-hearted than any other... Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2007 by Greshon
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant comic masterpiece
One of the funniest films I have ever seen -an absolute delight from start to finish, and which influenced George Lucas' StarWars. Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2004 by Adam Sturgess
5.0 out of 5 stars Best-kept secret: Japanese original of first Star Wars
From its opening battle scenes with two lucky buffoons escaping certain death, through the Princess-who-must-be-saved-at-all-costs and the strange other-reality of a tavern on the... Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2002 by
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