Kurosawa's influence on SW

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Darth-Stryphe, Feb 3, 2003.

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  1. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    In 1994, a friend of mine told me about a movie, which I had never heard of, titled "Hidden Fortress." He said that SW was based off this movie, and that if I watched it, I would see the undeniable parrellels between the two. In 1995 I finally found a copy of it at a Blockbuster. On the back of the box, it also stated that this movie had influenced SW. When I watched it, I saw unmistakable parrellels, as my friend had told me.

    The DVD has an intro by Lucas. Lucas admits that he loves Kurosawa works and studied them in filmschool, but he denies that there is any connection between SW and HF. So, to anyone who has seen these movies, do you think this is so? And, in what way do you feel Lucas might have been influenced by Kurosawa?
  2. merlin Force Ghost

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    [color=663300]I've never seen any Kurosawa films that I know of, but I can't see how GL could love Kurosawa's works and not be influenced by it. I think artists of any kind are influenced by the other artists that they love. [/color]
  3. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Another Kurosawa film that influenced SW would be The Seven Samurai. Notable influences would be a character Yoda was based on, and raiding bandits bearing helmets remarkably similar to Vader's. Lucas acknowledged this in an interview on the DVD.
  4. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    I've never seen any Kurosawa films that I know of

    Treat yourself to one, every film he does is a new experience in the excellence of filmmaking.

    GrandAdmiralJello, which character was "Yoda" in 7S?
  5. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    It was that village elder.
  6. Qui-Gon Tim Memphis, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

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    The very concept of the Jedi is taken from the Samurai. It is apparent in not only their attitude, but their costume as well.

    Oh, and if you want to see a good example of how Kurosawa, as well as many other Japanese and Chinese directors, influenced Lucas, then I recommend the documentary Martial Arts in the Movies. It has been shown on Starz! lately, and it's hosted by Samuel Jackson.
  7. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    As I recall, Lucas purchases rights to The Hidden Fortress prior to the 1977 release of ANH because he felt that the movies were too similar.
  8. Qui-Gon Tim Memphis, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

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    Here's a summary of The Hidden Fortress: The Hidden Fortress

    And although Lucas cites Fortress as the inspiration of Star Wars, I could find nothing confirming that he bought the rights to the film.

    And although many compare Star Wars to Hidden Fortress, I found one reviewer who found more similarities in The Phantom Menace. Check it out here:
    The Phantom Menace and The Hidden Fortress

  9. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    And although Lucas cites Fortress as the inspiration of Star Wars

    He said this? He denies it on the DVD.

    Oh, and yes, TPM and HF are way more similar as a plot, but there are a couple of scenes in HF that are actually used in ANH.
  10. Qui-Gon Tim Memphis, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

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    But this conversation brings another question: What is the difference between plagerism and tribute?
  11. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Oh, I don't think what Lucas did was close enough to plagerism to warrant a law suite, but I really don't think it's tribute, either. A tribute is a single brief scene or comment, what we have in SW is more than that, and GL also isn't targeting an audience that is likely to have seen HF.
  12. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    It's more of an extended homage.
  13. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

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    Episode I: The Phantom Homage [face_laugh]

    No?
  14. DarthAttorney Manager Emeritus

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    Obviously Kurosawa was a huge influence on not just SW but the entire Western film industry at the time (as opposed to the Eastern). He defined new formats which were adapted by Western film makers (Hidden Fortress/ANH, Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven) and adapted classic Western literature into new Eastern material (King Lear/Ran).

    The guy was a genius and an obvious mentor to GL, to the extent that GL had some kind of large Execuive Producing role on Ran, Kurosawa's last film....and an epic moster it was too.

    If you want amazing battle sequences in feudal Japan, get your hands on Ran

    :D
  15. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    I haven't actually seen Ran, though I need to correct that. (BTW, I thought Dreams was this last movie.)
  16. leif Jedi Knight

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    Kurosawa's complete list

    Ran(King Lear), Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress are awesome....must see these atleast. also check out Throne of Blood(Macbeth) and Yojimbo.

    Kurosawa's cinematography is awesome...his movies are clearly very artistic... you can see that after Lucas' role in RAN.... he moved to use more grand shots in the prequels that the OT didnt have much of.
  17. Darth_Surly Jedi Master

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    Well, I have seen The Hidden Fortress, and I agree with the review (linked above) that the princess more closely resembles Amidala than Leia. I also think that 3P0 and R2 are loosely (at best) based on the bumbling peasants.

    I don't think it could really be argued to be plagiarism. There's not that much directly lifted from HF, it's more general ideas. Besides, the various elements allegedly being plagiarized aren't even in the same film.

    Also if he had plagiarized Kurosawa, TPM would have had deeply realized characters and plotting.
  18. Shelley Jedi Youngling

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    Sep 9, 2001
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    I didn't see that many parallels between HF (which I watched last night) and SW. There were some, but the strongest parallel was the one Lucas himself pointed out: that SW, like HF, is told through the eyes of the two lowliest characters.

    Princess Yuki is hot-tempered and bossy like Leia. Rokurota is kind of like Obi Wan Kenobi, kind of like Qui Gon Jinn, kind of like Han Solo, and kind of like Luke. The spear fight is kind of like a lightsaber duel. The two arguing characters at the beginning are kind of like R2-D2 and C3PO; one says, "This is all your fault!".

    However, in ANH, there is no royal treasure (a major plot point of HF). There is no parallel to the girl that the princess saves from a life of forced prostitution. There is no fire dance. There is no parallel to the princess's cathartic scene before she is to be executed, or their escape due to the change of heart of Rokurota's former friend. And in HF, there is no Darth Vader, no Emperor, no Chewbacca, no Death Star. No parallel to Rokurota's sister who sacrifices herself so the princess can escape.
  19. RogueSith Force Ghost

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    The following is from GL?s 1973 outline/plot summary:

    "It is the thirty-third century, a period of civil wars in the galaxy. A rebel princess, with her family, her retainers, and the clan treasure, is being pursued. If they can cross territory controlled by the Empire and reach a friendly planet, they will be saved. The Sovereign knows this, and posts a reward for the capture of the princess."


    This is from Donald Richie?s 1965 biography The Films of Akira Kurosawa:

    "It is the sixteenth century, a period of civil wars. A princess, with her family, her retainers, and the clan treasure is being pursued. If they can cross enemy territory and reach a friendly province they will be saved. The enemy knows this and posts a reward for the capture of the princess."


    Supposedly GL looked into buying the rites to HF because of this type of thing, but was unable to do so. As the writing of SW progressed most of the similarities were dropped one by one.

    The treasure at one point was "aura spice", but that too was dumped. The story is that Frank Herbert's people got wind of that detail and were threatening a lawsuit. I don't know how much truth there is to that one, I've read it multiple places, but it could be a myth.
  20. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

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    Jun 19, 2002
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    "However, in ANH, there is no royal treasure (a major plot point of HF)."

    yes there is. the death star plans, hidden in artoo, like the gold hidden in the wood.

    from the summary : " With the princess comes a large pile of gold disguised as firewood. They combine forces and undertake a hair-raising journey, hunted by Tadokoro's soldiers."

    replace "gold" with death star plans and "Tadokoro's soldiers" with stormtroopers and i think anyone can see the similarities.

    im glad to hear you watched HF Shelley, and its nice to see you noticed the many similarities as well. did you also notice the almost identical shot compositions throughout and the use of wipes as transitions from scene to scene? the basic plot, a group of characters transporting a princess across enemy lines is also the same as Star Wars.

    oh, and the Hidden Fortress is the Death Star.
  21. Darth_Surly Jedi Master

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    May 10, 2002
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    I'd forgotten about the wipes!

    I think the Death Star plans hidden in R2 are kind of a stretch, but that's just my take.
  22. IG_88a Jedi Master

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    May 15, 2002
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    In Empire magazine last year, there was a small box dedicated to this very topic, i will endevour to locate, and quote. The similarities are uncanny.
    BTW Kurosawa movies are awesome :D
  23. Yun-Yuuzhan Force Ghost

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    May 9, 2001
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    If you watch the Hidden Fortess, and then disect it and then compare it to Star Wars, you could easily find many similarities. As you could in many films. Watching the opening scenes, it is quite obvious that C-3PO and R2-D2 mirror Kurosawa's peasants almost exactly up to a point.

    This is the only major similarity that anyone who has seen both films could point out besides a princess being involved. Both stories move in seperate directions, at first slowly, but then at a quickening pace as the movies run their courses.

    As for other influences, I am not one to say. All I know is that George Lucas helped Kurosawa on Kagemusha, Ran, and Dreams, being credited as a producer on several. But do see as many Akira Kurosawa films as you can, for the film history or for fun, he has many truly great films.
  24. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

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    Jun 19, 2002
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    "If you watch the Hidden Fortess, and then disect it and then compare it to Star Wars, you could easily find many similarities."

    but see, these "many similarities" are far more meaningful when you know that Lucas has claimed inspiration from this film, it makes sense to dissect it and see exactly what in Star Wars came from HF

    the plot line is the same. princess sneaks item x behind enemy lines with the help of two bumbling sidekicks and a former general. i cant think of any movie, other than Star Wars and HF, with this story line

    the POV and storytelling method is the same.

    many characters and events are the same.

    many scenes are the same.

    the shot compositions are the same.

    the transitional style is the same.

    this is from just a light examination of the similarities. also much of what Lucas did not use for Star Wars, he incorporated into TPM.
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    This is reposted from my post in "Does anyone still think George Lucas is a genius?" in the TPM forum.

    Here are some excerpts from the 2001 Lucas interview included on the HF DVD. I apologize in advance for any inaccuries in the transcript, but I think it's pretty close.

    "My favorite of all time is Seven Samurai?Hidden Fortress isn?t top of my list but I was impressed and I liked it and it had a visual style that was strong and unique."

    ?

    follows good stuff on Kurosawa?s style.

    "You can?t help but be influenced by his use of camera in Hidden Fortress when he chases them into the camp and he gets caught. If you watch the camera movement in there and again long lenses panning with the riders as they go into the camp it builds in intensity? "

    [note: here Lucas is describing a scene in HF which he later copies nearly shot for shot for the speeder bike chase in ROTJ]

    "The one thing about Hidden Fortress is that it did influence me in doing Star Wars. Because as I was beginning to write the screenplay and put it together I remembered Hidden Fortress and I remembered the one thing that really struck me about Hidden Fortress and 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 which is to take the two lowliest characters as Kurosawa did and tell the story from their point of view which in the Star Wars case was the two droids, and that was the strongest influence actually.

    "The fact that there was a princess trying to get through enemy lines and everything I think was more of a coincidence than anything else because in my film the princess is more a stand and fight kind of princess and in the beginning I did have in some of the first drafts I had a little bit more of her and a jedi, an older jedi, trying to escape and that sort of thing but then it evolved eventually into the story of Luke.

    "I think all stories have been around for a few thousand years. There?s a book written and a theory among writers that there?s only 32 plots and that it?s all the same 32 plots retold. And in a way I?m not sure that?s exactly true but once you get into writing stories or reading stories or studying the whole issue of stories you find out that most stories are repeated over and over again, and in Kurosawa it?s we?re trapped behind enemy lines and how can we escape."
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