Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Hidden Fortress

13 comments:

  1. Great stuff. Really interesting. It makes me want to go and watch The Hidden Fortress. A number of references to the Star Wars movies were made that I never noticed before, and I've noticed a lot. Looking forward to more listening!

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  2. Thanks, Josh! The Hidden Fortress was a big source of inspiration to tackle and I was concerned that I wouldn't do it justice. It's worth watching again!

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  3. Wow! Really clear and concise. Chris uncovered many insights into the creative inspiration behind these iconic films. Look forward to the next one!

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  4. I liked this presentation, and it made me put the films referenced in my Netflix queue. One thought that I had as I listened was the idea that nothing is new- something always came before that we look back on and see as an influence. The Beatles changed pop music, and to this day are cited by so many musicians as the main influence, but the Beatles were influenced by American R&B. So back and back it goes.
    I liked that Chris points out what George Lucas actually cites as influences, and which might be subconcious, or even a stretch. Nice work- looking forward to more.

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  5. Thanks to all who have posted comments. Glad to see that you like our little program. To Joshjani's point, Lucas commented that there is a belief among some writers that there are only a certain number of "original" stories (12? 13? Opinions differ.) and storytellers keep telling them over and over again. Food for thought. Also, in regards to Netflix, a friend on Facebook posted that "The Hidden Fortress" is available as an "Instant" in your Netflix Queue - which means you can watch it "instantly" on your personal computer, as opposed to waiting for a disc in the mail. Pretty cool.

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  6. added it to my Netflix instant queue. I didn't know much of Lucas' influences until now. I look forward to you next podcast.

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  7. Great job. Star Wars is one of the first movies I recall seeing. That said, sometimes I wonder if had I seen the influential movies first, if I would have been disappointed upon seeing Star Wars because I would have thought that the story was ripped off or at the very least that I had heard the story before. I think this goes to the point that maybe there are only a certain number of original stories and all movies are just the retelling of an old story. Still, I think it's interesting to debate the fine line between copying a movie and paying homage to a movie and how the order of how we view things defines our outlook.

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  8. Informative and well-researched. I like how you've referenced the expanded Star Wars universe as well as other influential films, but kept your focus on the significance of what is certainly a Kurosawa classic. To MikeyG's point, I'm sure our fathers and mothers recognized something familiar about Star Wars--it was not unlike the serials they grew up with in movie houses each week. For me, discovering HF after SW was revelatory but also delightful. I like tracing influences; they can be like a modern-day tapestry when you consider them all together. Chris mentioned Dam Busters and there are some scenes in that that are downright mirrored in SW. So what?! A New Hope's theme harkens to values that were prevalent and celebrated in WWII America and it's only fitting Lucas take some of those visual cues and re-use them to reaffirm the values of justice and liberty in a modern-day American society that was still licking its Vietnam wounds.

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  9. I just watched the Seven Samurai. Now I guess I'll have to have a mini Kurasawa fest.

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  10. Wow. More great posts. Thank you! MikeyG - don't despair. While we're just getting started here, one could easily start a similiar project about the films that have referenced Star Wars - both by mimicking scenes/themes or blatantly repurposing dialogue from it. Homages/ripoffs are part and parcel in Hollywood. PBF's comment is insightful and way ahead of me. I hope to explore the Star Wars/Vietnam connection in a later podcast. Interestingly enough, the prequel release dates are scattered around 9/11 and the subsequent war that followed. So, as always with Star Wars, there's plenty to talk about. Hey, thechronicniceguy, Seven Samurai is also on my 100+ List of films that inspired Star Wars. And, you're right, you need continue the fest with Hidden Fortress. Thanks again for listening!

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  11. I personally try to remove words such as "rip-off" or "unoriginal" from my vocabulary when it applies to film criticism and theory. Much like what came before movies (eg. theatre plays, books, sculpture, cave paintings, what have you), the original works eventually become a part of what will come in the future for that particular paradigm. Just like we learn things from our parents or older friends, it is the teachings and influeneces (homage or even parody), that I feel represents all of us and all of our work and we are not copying or ripping off our parents or teachers or friends, we are taking what influences they gave to us and applying them to our lives. I think 115 years of movies, has soured some people. Everybody feels the need to compare everything. I think we serve ourselves and our artists the best when we look at a particular piece of work as it stands on it's own and not give it negative points because it looks like something that came before it. You can't erase the history of mankind and expect things to be fresh and new. That is unrealistic. By the way, I am not criticising anyone's comments above. This is normal, healthy, thought-provoking stuff and all of it is correct, but if it's originality you are looking for, get into your little time machine and go back to 1895 at the dawn of the movies. I am very pleased that Chris has taken on this challenge of exploring what was in Lucas' mind when he started his history making work and I can't wait to hear more.

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  12. PHIL AT THE MOVIES 2010 MEETS DIGGING STAR WARS.

    Now about the movie: Hidden Fortress (1958)

    I personally was pleased to see that George Lucas was influenced by the work done by Kurosawa. It was also cool to see that Hidden Fortress was a Toho Studios film. That's right folks! Star Wars and Godzilla (Gojira), have the same roots. Say what you want about Japanese horror movies, but if you read or saw anything that describes the pain-staking process of building those little Tokyo's and those little tanks, just to see them get destroyed in an instant, you would appreciate that the same process went into Star Wars. Toho Studios wasn't just another Studio. It had a tangabilty, a gritiness, an aura to it. It was a huge influence on a plethora of work that followed it and it demands respect. In Hidden Fortress, that feeling is felt throughout the film. It is true that the budgets in these films (adjusted for inflation), were much lower than a Lucas film, but the Japanese were commited to the work and the low-budget aspect of it actually raised the beleivabilty. Sure, Korosawa could have spent money on huge sets and expensive fight scenes, but it looks better just being shot in rural outside locations and giving actors like Toshiro Mifune their poetic license to make the scene work. In fact, when you watch the original Star Wars (the 1977 theatrical version), you can see the gritiness, aura and tangibility found in a Toho Studios film, especially in the early scenes with C-3PO and R2D2 in the desert.

    I too saw the similarities between our (2) Hidden Fortress characters and our favorite Droids. The constant bickering. The height difference. The friendship that always returns when things are there worse. They even split up and go their seperate ways just like the Droids did in that early part of Star Wars. The princess is too easy though. Totally Leia and totally Padme. I thought that Toshiro Mifuni's character was more of a Han Solo type though. His greed and toughness made him feel more Solo than Luke. The fight scene between Mifune and his "friend" screamed Darth Maul. Oh, one more thing. Our old friend Takashi Shimura, who gained fame in the Seven Samurai and Gojira is in the Hidden Fortress - sweet. It is a good film and very compelling. What killed me from giving it an "A" was the scene where the Princess is crying right at the camera. That was painful. I have always wanted to see this film and thanks to a swift kick in the ass from Chris I got to it. Thanks Man! - Grade: B+

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