The Hidden Fortress

D: Akira Kurosawa
Toho (Masumi Fujomoto)
Japan 1958
123 mins


W: Ryuzo Kikushima, Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto & Akira Kurosawa
DP: Kazuo Miyazaki
Ed: Akira Kurosawa
Mus: Masatu Sato

Toshiro Mifune (Gen. Rokurota Makabe), Minoru Chiaki (Tahei), Kamatari Fujiwara (Matashichi), Misa Uehara (Princess Yuki)

George Lucas cited The Hidden Fortress as one of the major influences and inspirations for his first Star Wars film and though there are some subtle similarities, they are both completely different stories.
Set during a time of Japanese tribal war, a pair of peasants try to exploit the conflicts for their own gain when they make a discovery of hidden gold. To travel across enemy territory, they use the help of a beautiful mute woman and her warrior companion, who, unbeknownst to the peasants are actually a princess and her general.
The Hidden Fortress has gone on to become one of Akira Kurosawa's most famous films, not just because of the Star Wars connection, but also for being a thoroughly enjoyable adventure movie which followed some of his more arthouse, serious, dramatic pictures (Throne Of Blood, etc).
It's obvious that the two peasant characters were George Lucas' inspiration for C3PO and R2D2 in the Star Wars films, and the princess and her general would go on to evolve into Princess Leia and Han Solo, but that is pretty much where the similarities end.
It's very much worth watching for fans of Star Wars movies, as it shows how George Lucas developed his ideas, but the film is best viewed as a standalone adventure from the Orient.

The Hidden Fortress
The Hidden Fortress