The hidden fortress

The hidden fortress

Kakushitoride no san-akunin

DVD - 2009 | Japanese
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The story of an exiled princess, a masterful warrior, and two bungling misfits in search of gold.
Publisher: [New York] : Criterion Collection : Janus Films, 2009
Edition: Widescreen format
ISBN: 9781604651652
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (139 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 23, 2018

A bit distraught from the lack of success of his last two films which he deemed heavy and tragic, Akira Kurosawa took a new tone with this movie stating: " I want to make a 100% entertainment film, full of thrills and fun ".

Dec 21, 2016

I enjoyed this interesting film. We can see the basic elements of the story that can form the basis of star wars. Kurosawa seems to always produce a provocative film on serious human questions or challenges. This one is the destruction of another clan/kingdom at all costs to attain domination. We still see this going on in all theaters of civil. ethnic, religious or national wars. Wherever one entity is threatened, total annihilation of 'the other' is pursued.
Seelochan Beharry

Aug 20, 2016

I believe I have said before in a comment on a Kurosawa movie - I am not a fan of the grimaced shouting!

of the 20 I have watched so far Ikiru continues to be my Kurosawa favourite with Dersu Uzala 2nd.

Jul 20, 2016

After its final scene, I was sorry that there was no second DVD, just a pull out review insert by film historian Armond White (see write up in summary.). Love the story (action adventure comedy drama about a young princess, her loyal general and two greedy dimwits,) music score, pace, acting and non-stop humor. Great film by Japan's most important film maker 黒澤 明 in the 20th century.

May 24, 2016

DO NOT watch this movie only because you heard that it inspired Star Wars. Here are the things from this movie that appear in Star Wars:

1. The thread of the story follows two bumbling, low-class characters that stumble into a much larger story.
2. Wipe transitions.
3. A strong female protagonist.

Now that we have that out of the way, you should watch this movie on its own merits. It's arguably too long, but still well made and well done.

Sep 27, 2015

A really good "must see" movie that only suffers from its length and editing.

Feb 09, 2015

A very old Japanese movie but it is still entertaining. It is too long for my taste. Parts of the movie could have been cut.

Oct 11, 2014

Another Akira Kurosawa film that needs to be seen by the unwashed masses who were enthralled by the western "versions", such as
in this case, Star Wars.

Oct 06, 2014

as good as or even better than Pulp Fiction. Very long movie about an epic journey to flee from a defeated clan

Sep 21, 2014

Akira Kurosawa, Japan's most loved director of all time, released The Hidden Fortress in 1958. Over the years it's become more renowned for what it's influenced ( Stars Wars ) rather than anything else. Kurosawa's filmography is based on variety. Some of his films focus entirely on plot, other revolve around an exploration of the characters. His films even range from great ( Seven Samurai ) to exhausting overrated ( Rashomon ).

The Hidden Fortress follows the adventure of a Japanese general and a princess' attempt to smuggle gold by disguising it in wooden sticks. Along with them are two poor peasants -- men who will do anything when tempted by the glimmering sight of gold. The film depicts the events that unfold after the unlikely accomplices embark on their dangerous journey.

The Hidden Fortress does not explore its characters. They're only used as a vehicle to progress the plot. The result is a rather one-dimensional film, where the viewer's investment is blocker by a brick wall representing the cardboard characters. The two peasants are the more interesting adventurers, as they have significant personalities that actually affect the story. But they also happen to be whiny cowards who in one scene draw straws to decide which of them gets to rape the sleeping princess (who happens to be sixteen). This scene is even played up to be comedic, which is to say the least, repulsive. In the end, according to Kurosawa's calculations, we're supposed to have fallen in love with these two despicable and obnoxious scumbags. The viewer is intended to consider their annoying complaining throughout to be "cute" and their attempt at raping an innocent woman to be a "charming display of humor". In that regard, The Hidden Fortress is disgusting.

Toshirô Mifune is far less of a great actor than an exciting action hero. He speaks with an exaggeratedly menacing voice, and for some reason delivers most of his lines like that. But come danger, Mifune's excessively masculine (to the point of self-parody) persona comes into play. But he manages to display charisma along with heroism just as Sean Connery might have in a James Bond film. While Mirfune is not enough of a gifted actor to make The Hidden Fortress shine, he's certainly responsible for many of its entertaining moments.

While in other movies Kurosawa excels at directing with humanity, none of that is to be found here. He dedicates his attention towards the exceptionally choreographed fight sequences. The highlight is a scene involving a battle where the participants are on horseback. This is extremely difficult to capture on camera, but Kurosawa succeeds to film the sequence with startling intimacy. The other action scenes are overlong and veer into tedium. Samurai cinema is often known for lengthy battle scenes. In Masaki Kobayashi's superb Harakiri the climax contains an incredibly lengthy sword fight, but you never notice how long it truly is because Kobayashi supplies the viewer with tension, something Kurosawa forgets.

The Hidden Fortress has its moments where the images surpass all of its other aspects. Credit goes to Kazuo Yamasaki for numerous longshots where we look out at the beautiful and sprawling landscapes. It's this tremendous photography that fills the viewer with awe and makes everything feel real. The visuals are too exquisite to have been shot in a studio. We're looking off into the real world.

Adventure cinema hinges on how fun and entertaining the result is and whether it has a tight grip on the audience. The Hidden Fortress bounces from dull to exciting moments, having having an average pace. While watching The Hidden Fortress you'll never be struck by "the master of Japanese cinema", but it takes notice of Kurosawa's skill which he capitilized on in other films, such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo .

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Jul 20, 2016

The song from The Fire Festival: Yuki's song (see link to Youtube in Vidios":

The life of a man
Burn it in the fire
The life of an insect
Throw it into the fire
Ponder and you'll see
The world is dark
And this floating world is a dream
Lose yourself
The life of a man
Burn it in the fire

Jul 20, 2016

I'm not biting. When you say right, I say left. I'm a handful. Very well. Let me use reverse psychology.
Just like you. All right. This once I will let you fool me. Otherwise your plan will be foiled.
Hide a stone among stones and a man among men.
--Where will we hide the gold?
Leave it out in the open.
I have enjoyed the journey. The happiness of these days I would have never known living in the castle.
I've seen people as they are, without pretense. I've seen their beauty... and their ugliness... with my own eyes. Rokurota, I thank you. I can now die without regret.

Jul 20, 2016

Don't touch me, fool! It's uncomfortable enough.
--It's your face that makes me uncomfortable.
Leave my face alone. I hate the way you blink all the time. There you go again.
--Shut up! Put your filthy teeth away. Show them to me once more and I'll bash them in.
We're not as stupid as you think. You thought you had us fooled, but we're not that gullible. I know your game.
--What are you saying, your Highness?
Kofuyu was 16... I am 16. What difference is there in our souls?
--It is our duty as servants. Kofuyu was honored...
Lies! If I were Kofuyu, I would curse this princess.

Jul 20, 2016

-What's so funny, you idiot?
--It's all funny! First, we arrived late to the war. Then they mistook us for the defeated side and forced us to bury the dead. We finally escaped, and now it's been two days that we've only had water. But the funniest thing is your stupid crybaby face.
There is 200 kan (貫) of pure gold hidden in this castle. Until you find it, you're no longer men but moles! So dig! Dig until you drop, moles!
She is a great leader. Serve her well.
--Hyoe! Don't die in vain! If you wish, follow us!
Hey! What's your name?
--Me? I'm Rokurota Makabe.
Rokurota Makabe? I've heard that name before. Makabe... Rokurota Makabe... Get out of here! Rokurota Makabe is a legendary Akizuki samurai general. You take us for fools.


Add a Summary

Jul 20, 2016

Full article at:

Best known as the major influence on George Lucas’ Star Wars, Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 The Hidden Fortress deserves recognition as a definitive cultural expression of Japan’s master filmmaker. After the international success of Rashomon (1952) and Seven Samurai (1955), Kurosawa abandoned his early interest in “gendai-mono” (modern-set pictures) and concentrated on “jidai-geki” (period-set pictures). For contemporary filmgoers, the term “jidai” should ring a bell suggesting knight-like chivalry, exotic adventure and historical myths from many ages. Those are exactly the elements Kurosawa began to emphasize in his medieval tales. Elaborating on his previous urban dramas, Kurosawa went back to early Japanese history, culminating in The Hidden Fortress’ fascinated concentration on basic moral themes.

For The Hidden Fortress Kurosawa devised a story both elaborate and simple ...


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at DCPL

To Top