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Film: The Hidden Fortress

"The part that was the most interesting in Hidden Fortress was that it was told from the point of view of the farmers, and not from the point of view of the princess. I liked that idea."

Kakushi Toride no San Akunin (approximately "Three Bad Men of the Hidden Fortress") was Akira Kurosawa's first widescreen film. The film is a Jidai Geki with an interesting twist: rather than concentrating on The Hero, the film instead focuses on a pair of bickering peasants, with none of the other major characters putting in an appearance until twenty minutes or so in. Once the audience's sympathies have been firmly attached to the peasants, the Hero, the Rebellious Princess, and the rest of the film's major characters begin to show up. From then on, it's a series of hairbreadth escapes as the protagonists have to travel through enemy territory to reach safety.

This film is best known in the West for the idea of focusing on the peasants at first; this storytelling tool provided the inspiration for two droids named R2-D2 and C-3P0.

This Film Provides Examples Of:

  • Attempted Rape: Kinda disturbing since Tahei and Matashichi regularly make passes at 16-year-old Princess Yuki and even draw straws while she's asleep to see who will "have some fun". It's played for laughs.
  • Automaton Horses: Actually the horses are treated respectfully, with the exception of the scene where Makabe jumps on a totally random horse and chases down some enemies without using the reins. But then, he's just that good.
  • Badass: Makabe Rokurota - no surprise here, as he is played by Toshiro Mifune.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Princess Yuki, though hers are no match for those of Makabe Rokuruta as played by Toshiro Mifune.
  • Blade on a Stick: A really nifty duel with these.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Somewhat implied between the princess and Rokurota, though it's not clear who likes who. Not helped by Rokurota pretending that she's his woman.
  • Combat by Champion: Nobody interferes in the duel between Makabe and Hyoe, even to letting the victor ride off unharmed.
  • Crowd Song: At the fire festival, the huge crowds of celebrants are dancing with well-choreographed moves. Subverted, though, as the crowd has obviously practiced, and when our heroes join in, they're horribly out of step.
  • Friendly Enemy: Hyoe Tadokoro
  • Give Me a Sword: Makabe snatches spears from random soldiers until he finds a satisfactory one before fighting Hyoe.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: The low point on the journey comes during a rainstorm.
  • Happiness in Slavery: The farm girl that they buy off a pimp eventually becomes extremely protective of Princess Yuki.
  • The Hero: Makabe Rokuruta, despite the peasants being the central characters.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Hyoe
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Makabe's sister Kofuyu, and the two elderly servants.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Tahei and Matashichi
  • I Am Spartacus: Happens twice to protect the princess. Once with Kofuyu who dies, and again with the farm girl who lives.
  • Kabuki Sounds: The score combines these with western-style film music.
  • King Incognito: Well, princess incognito.
  • Large Ham: Princess Yuki, whose dialog comes in one flavor: ANGRY.
  • Lovable Traitor: The peasants will run for it at the first sign of danger, taking whatever gold they can manage, but still manage to redeem themselves.
  • Mobile Shrubbery
  • No Indoor Voice: Princess Yuki, who manages to pull it off while avoiding Narm.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Princess Yuki becomes this towards the end, due to having an epiphany at the fire festival.
  • Pinball Protagonist
  • Pose of Supplication: When Tahei and Matashichi finally see the princess in full regalia.
  • Production Posse: With the exception of the actress playing the princess, all of the major parts were played by actors who had long records of working with Kurosawa, some as far back as his very first picture as director, seventeen years earlier.
  • Rebellious Princess: Princess Yuki
  • Refuge in Audacity: How does Rokurota get the gold concealed in the firewood past the checkpoint? By marching straight up to it and showing the samurai on guard one of the pieces of gold which he claimed to have found on the mountain- then he makes a fuss about getting them to give it back to him to distract the guards while the others hustle through with the rest of it.
  • Reverse Psychology: Makabe tries this on the Princess. She catches on, but goes along with it anyway.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Sneaking by posing as woodcutters, with gold inside the wood.
  • Samurai
  • The Speechless: Princess Yuki pretends to be deaf-mute.
  • Supporting Protagonist
  • Tasty Gold
  • Tears of Remorse: At one point Princess Yuki runs away and stands on a mountaintop crying her eyes out for her friend's sacrifice, since she's too proud to let anybody see her vulnerable side.
  • Those Two Guys / Vitriolic Best Buds: Tahei and Matashichi, naturally!
  • Tomboy Princess: Princess Yuki was an only child raised as a boy by her father. It shows.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: In order to avoid a heavily guarded border crossing, our heroes have to venture into the heart of enemy territory.
  • Whip It Good: The princess carries a horse whip.
  • You Have Failed Me: Happens offscreen, but Hyoe is mutilated by his overlord.


Throne of BloodCreator/Akira KurosawaYojimbo
Hard Revenge MillyJapanese FilmsHigh And Low
HerculesFilms of the 1950sHorror of Dracula
Help!Creator/The Criterion CollectionHigh And Low

alternative title(s): The Hidden Fortress
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