It pains me to report that the Hidden Fortress is not the Death Star. I liked the idea that Akira Kurosawa, who I submit is the greatest director the movies have yet produced, had somehow made Star Wars, more or less fully formed, but with samurai. Fear of discovering that was not the case is probably what prevented me from seeing The Hidden Fortress until now. In the interviews I've seen, George Lucas freely admitted that there are connections between the two movies, but he downplayed them, saying only that there are princesses in both movies -- but they're very different -- and that the Kurosawa movie gave him the idea for C-3PO and R2-D2. But George is pulling our collective leg a little bit.
First of all, the princesses are quite similar. George says that Leia is "more of a stand-and-fight" princess than Kurosawa's Princess Yuki, but I found the differences to be cosmetic, and really more a product of the particular circumstances each woman found herself in. Yuki is pretty bad-ass, especially without access a blaster. I'd like to see Leia, in the middle of crossing enemy lines to re-establish her kingdom, trade her only means of transport to save one of her former subjects from a life of forced prostitution. What's really interesting with Princess Yuki, though, is how much she influenced Padme Amidala in the dreaded prequels. Sure, there's the bizarre geisha face paint, but in addition Yuki relies on a series of doubles and look-alikes to keep her safe, something that figures prominently into the first two prequels.
When it comes to Tahei and Matashichi, the two inspirations for R2 and 3PO, "similarity" definitely gives way to "quotation," as the whiny and constantly bickering pair are lifted almost directly out of Kurosawa's movie. Except for the part where they seriously consider raping the princess while she sleeps. Lucas wisely left that out.
|These two jackasses were reincarnated as fastidious robots.|
Without the overwhelming greed and rape-eyes.
|Han Solo's cool, but ain't nobody Mifune-cool.|
To be honest, I don't know why Fox bought that story. I wouldn't watch that for all the hairbrushes in Kashyyyk.