Alphabetical Movie – Hidden Fortress
Hidden Fortress came to my house in a Kurosawa Samurai 4 pack that also included The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sanjuro. In geek circles, it is probably the most famous Kurosawa film simply because George Lucas has said that Star Wars was influenced by some aspects of Hidden Fortress.
Before I watched the movie for the first time, I told a friend I was looking forward to seeing it and she told me it wasn’t very good. She’d rented it specifically because of the Star Wars connection and had been disappointed. In fact, she had rented it on VHS and said you could see the points at which previous renters had given up on the film and hit rewind.
Is it fair to Hidden Fortress that it is so rarely watched except as a novelty? Is it fair to compare it to Star Wars, which may not be better than many Kurosawa films but is definitely better than this one?
Well…no. But that isn’t George Lucas’ fault. Jar Jar Binks is George Lucas’ fault. In admitting the influence of Hidden Fortress, Lucas was trying to turn his legions of fans on to a director that he, rightfully, considered to be a great artist. You can’t blame him if a bunch of fans looking for the Samurai equivalent of the assault on the Death Star were left wondering what George was smoking.
The reality of loving film is this – telling someone how much you love a movie will never convince them to love it as well. In fact, the more you talk about how great you believe a movie to be, the more likely you are to have someone walk away feeling the opposite.
I get frustrated when I show a movie that I love to friends because the experience is so frequently a bad one. I remember showing Yojimbo to a group of people and being asked to explain why I loved the movie so much – as if my explanation would somehow change their minds.
The request didn’t diminish my love of the film but it did make me less likely to share the film with others. When a bunch of people shit all over a film you love right after you showed it to them saying “I fucking love this film,” it is not an experience you look to repeat.
That doesn’t make those people jackasses. “I didn’t like it” is a completely valid response to watching a movie and you have to be prepared for that response. If you really love a movie, though, you might not want to expose yourself to that experience. Tell your friends to watch the movie on their own so you don’t have to feel rejected if they don’t like it.
With Hidden Fortress, George Lucas presented a film that he loved to all of his “friends” and, sure enough, a lot of them have no idea why he loved it so much. My personal hope would be that people like the movie just enough for it to serve as a gateway drug to the more addicting and yes, better films by Akira Kurosawa.
Like Yojimbo dammit.