Rent The Hidden Fortress (1958)

3.9 of 5 from 155 ratings
2h 18min
Rent The Hidden Fortress (aka Kakushi-toride no san-akunin) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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A story of rival clans, hidden gold and a princess in distress, 'The Hidden Fortress' is a thrilling mix of fairy story and samurai action movie. It was Kurosawa's first film shot in the widescreen process of Tohoscope, and he exploited this to the full in the film's rich variety of landscape locations, including the slopes of Mount Fuji.
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Akira Kurosawa, Sanezumi Fujimoto
Ryûzô Kikushima, Hideo Oguni
Kakushi-toride no san-akunin
BFI Video
Action & Adventure, Classics, Drama
Japan, Action & Adventure, Classics, Drama

1959 Berlinale Silver Bear for Best Director

1959 Berlinale FIPRESCI Prize

Release Date:
Run Time:
138 minutes
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
B & W
  • Interview with George Lucas about Kurosawa and 'The Hidden Fortress'
Release Date:
Run Time:
139 minutes
  • Original Theatrical Trailers
  • The Art of Akira Kurosawa (2013, 49 mins): Asian-cinema expert Tony Rayns discusses
  • Kurosawa's career and influence
  • Interview with filmmaker George Lucas (2001, 8 mins)
  • Interview with filmmaker Alex Cox (2003, 9 mins)
  • Introduction to Sanjuro by Alex Cox (2003, 5 mins)
  • Full-length audio commentary on Throne of Blood by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck
  • Full-length audio commentary on Yojimbo by film critic Philip Kemp

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Reviews (1) of The Hidden Fortress

Sharp and Classic. - The Hidden Fortress review by NW

Spoiler Alert

I ordered this after seeing Higuchi’s “Hidden Fortress – Last Princess” by accident. That is a film made with great technical skill and beautiful use of colour. This one, however, is the better film. They are both, in truth, fairy tales and the realistic use of colour in the 2008 version is excellent – beautiful, indeed – but somehow withdraws both the sharpness and tension of the story and the suspension of disbelief which is essential for the best fairy tales. After all, “Hidden Fortress” was directed by Kurosawa, and that in itself guarantees all that is needed. The tension and sense of threat is pretty near continuous, while Kurosawa’s sense of humanity and compassion are ever present. The actual filming and setting deserve study – on those grounds the film is a model. It has all the direct strength of black and white so that the realism of colour does not distract from the essence of the action and there is no reliance on clever effects ... but I have a bee in my bonnet about that!

I had some doubts as I watched; perhaps there are some flaws? The two peasant conscripts are indeed cleverly used to give the main characters a foreground – but are they a bit too naïve, clownish and greedy ... they certainly are very noisy? Does that noisiness distort the balance of the story? (I have a problem in many Japanese films with the sound of Japanese dialogue: why does it seem to sound so harsh, fast and aggressive when in fact quite ordinary things are being said? Distracting.) The successive narrow scrapes and escapes, and Makabe’s superhuman martial successes strain credence – if you pause and think. Similarly, the happy ending pushes possible likelihood rather hard! Would any Japanese princess have ridden horses astride quite so readily? (It is easy to understand Japanese doubts about Kurosawa’s yielding to western influences ...) A fairy story ... a parable ... a very fine film.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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