6

I've heard many times that George Lucas got some of his ideas for his 1977 movie Star Wars from Akira Kurosawa's movie The Hidden Fortress. I can see how Tahei and Matashichi could have (in some ways) served as an inspiration for C3-P0 and R2-D2. Also, I noticed that the editing in Star Wars, with its frequent use of wipes, is similar to the editing in a lot of Kurosawa's movies from the 1950's, including not just The Hidden Fortress, but also Seven Samurai and others. But I was at a loss to come up with other ways in which Star Wars was influenced by The Hidden Fortress.

Are there other ways in which George Lucas's Star Wars was influenced by The Hidden Fortress, or more generally by Akira Kurosawa? What am I missing?

8

As you mention the allusions between Tahei & Matashichi and R2-D2 & C-3PO seem to be the most obvious, but the way the film is cut/executed is also similar.

The one thing I was really intrigued by was the fact that the story was told from the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story…That was the strongest influence. The fact that there was a princess trying to get through enemy lines was more of a coincidence than anything else. In my film, the princess is more of a stand-and-fight kind of princess. In the beginning, in one of the first drafts, I did have a little bit more of her and a Jedi, an older Jedi, trying to escape, but then it evolved into the story of Luke.” - George Lucas

However, as the following Slashfilm article nicely explains, it seems the influence was stronger in previous drafts and with each update there were less and less influences in A New Hope.

It’s true that earlier versions of the Star Wars script featured a Jedi Knight that was much more active and older in the story, more like Toshiro Mifune’s General Makabe in The Hidden Fortress. In fact, if you trace the lineage of drafts of the original Star Wars screenplay and treatments, you can see that each revision took less and less from Hidden Fortress, with the earliest versions bearing the most resemblance to the film.

However that influence re-emerged as Lucas began to continue on in The Skywalker Saga, especially the prequels...

Perhaps the Star Wars film that embodies The Hidden Fortress the most, though, is The Phantom Menace. When you compare the premise of the two movies, the resemblance is much more striking than with A New Hope. A wisened general (Mifune and Liam Neeson) works to escape enemy territory in order to get a young princess (Misa Uehara and Natalie Portman) to safety so that she might save her people. Along the way, there are characters and situations that become reminiscent of The Hidden Fortress, but the most direct influence would be in the use and sacrifice of handmaidens.

This use of handmaidens as doubles that is prevalent on the surface of The Hidden Fortress is echoed in The Phantom Menace with the use of Sabe’s character (Keira Knightly) and the sacrifice of Princess Yuki’s handmaiden is repeated in Attack of the Clones with Corde.

Although Padme is a “stand-and-fight” queen as much as her daughter was as a princess, the story flourishes match between the prequels and The Hidden Fortress are undeniable.

There are lots of videos made to show the parallels and influences: I will leave you with a few that Slashfilm also used as a point of reference, including one with George Lucas mentioning his Kurosawa influence, especially his visual influence.

  • 1
    Thanks for taking the time to give me a great answer to my question. I found the quotations from Lucas, as well as the Youtube video "Film Class #8", to be particularly helpful. – Andrew Ostergaard Jan 9 at 20:00
  • 1
    No problem, although I think Slashfilm deserves some credit for compiling one in one place for me! :) Star Wars influences are pretty interesting in general. Even the Mandalorian has some nice homage to Seven Samurai most noticeably in 1.04: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Samurai – Darth Locke Jan 9 at 20:15
  • 1
    Also, I'm impressed that you were able to produce a quality answer so quickly. Thanks again! – Andrew Ostergaard Jan 9 at 21:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .