Kurosawa's influence on SW

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

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  1. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> And saying that Lucas merely "turned horses into spaceships" is absurd. The heroes of the story needed some sort of a conveyence, and STAR WARS being a space fantasy, what exactly did you expect them to travel in?


    The four seconds build up momentum of which, in the last cut, Kurosawa takes extremely clever advantage. The last horseman killed, the camera movement established in our minds, the last pan starts and suddenly there is the gate to the enemy camp. Mifune cannot curb his horse in time; we have hardly time to see what has happened when the momentum, both of the horse and the camera movement, carries him directly into the enemies? hands.

    ? Dan Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa
    />
    Falcon comes out of hyperspace?by the forth pan, the momentum of the Falcon chasing the Tie Fighter carries the heroes right into the heart of the Death Star.

    >>>> It seems you will not be happy until Lucas owns up to a crime he never committed.

    Incidentally, George?s story synopsis for SW that he wrote in 1973 is copyrighted. How can you copyright something that you yourself copied? The following are some comparisons from the 1973 SW synopsis and from Dan Richie?s book, The Film?s of Akira Kurosawa:



    She is being guarded by one of her generals, (Luke Skywalker) and it is he who leads her on the long and dangerous journey that follows. They take along with them two hundred pounds of the greatly treasured "aura spice", and also two Imperial bureaucrats, whom the general has captured.

    ? George Lucas The Star Wars 1973 Story Synopsis
    />
    The Hidden Fortress:


    She is being guarded by one of her generals and it is he who leads her on the long and dangerous journey that follows. They take along with them the sixteen hundred pounds of gold and also two farmers whom the general has captured.

    ? Dan Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa
    ? George Lucas The Star Wars 1973 Story Synopsis />/>/>/>
    />/>/>/>
  2. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    Oh, so I'm deluding myself simply because I disagree with your opinion. That's an original argument. [face_plain]

    While some early drafts may have had more similarities, it's obvious they were only place holders while Lucas fleshed out his own story. The end result is as removed from THE HIDDEN FORTRESS as J.R.R. Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS is removed from Wagner's THE RING, yet I don't see anybody whooping and hollering that Tolkien is guilty of plagerism. A double standard, perhaps?
  3. Trojan_Sock Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2003
    star 4
    "continue to delude yourself."

    That's 3 now. [face_plain]
  4. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I am stuck partway between the two opposing views here.

    What the 'lucas-plaugarised-Kurowawa' people need to understand is that there is no such thing as an 'original idea'. No idea just magically comes out of nowhere, as if divinely-inspired by some Muse--all ideas are based off other ideas. Speaking as a fellow writer and director myself, i am telling you this. Every seemingly-original idea that has every been put onscreen, or in print, or wherever, has been inspired and influenced by someone else. Shakespeare, according to you guys, had nothing original to say. His stories had been told before--it was the way in which he presented and told them, the different influences he melded into them, and the way he re-structured them, that made them unique. Lucas has done the same thing.

    Lucas has been saying this for decades--People have been telling the same stories since the dawn of time, its just the way they are presented that has changed. Study myth, study storytelling. You'll find that many of them are the same story being told in different ways. The stories Kurosawa told--in Seven Samaurai, Hidden Fortess, Ran--had all come from somewhere as well(Ran itself is a remake of King Lear, which in turn is based off an even earlier myth). All of his ideas--from story to characters to visual style--were in turn derived from pre-existing sources, and if you could find out his influences im sure you would find remarkable similarities between them and his works.
    Lucas took the stories of Kurosawa, the philosiphies and myths of the east, the myths of the west, every mythological archetype he could find (which exist in Kurosawas films as well--they're archetypal characters) and placed them in the setting of Buck Rogers.

    Perhaps Kurosawa's influence is largely underestimated by the gerneral public as well as star wars fans, and i'll agree, his films dont get as much credit as they should. The similarities between Kurosawa and Lucas are many, and i assure you they are very much intentional and not coincidence. But to call Lucas a plaugeriser is to totally misunderstand the creative process and the art of storytelling.
  5. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    ^^^
    Excellent post.
  6. DEEPBLUE Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2003
    star 1
    bad_radio, you remind me of an electronic teleprompter i used to date.

    i never could get a word in edgewise.
  7. Vanthorne_OX Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 11, 2002
    star 3
    There's some great discussion and learning going on here for all us, but this goes out to everyone in general. Let's remember the topic at hand and not just post about posters, for the sake of not getting this great thread closed.

    OK, I have to say I'm on the same wavelength that zombie describes, middleground. To say that Star Wars derives part of it's plot from Hidden Fortress is totally acceptable, and I don't think that is anything for anyone to be ashamed of. I've never heard of Kurosawa giving Lucas any feeling of ill-will, like he ripped him off or anything. So if Kurosawa wasn't mad or uspet with Lucas, why should we be? It seems Lucas has the deepest reverance for Kurosawa and as mentioned earlier, helped produce for him.

    On the flip side, if you do some research, you'll find that Kurosawa's well-know Rashomon, was drawn from two stories by the 1920's Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Kurosawa also drew many of his stories from western literature. Throne of Blood and Ran are based on Shakespeare, and High and Low is based on a detective novel by Ed McBain. Kurosawa's films have strong narrative lines and a good deal of physical action, and he admitted that John Ford, Abel Gance, Frank Capra, William Wyler, and Howard Hawks influenced him. In terms of cinematography, after WWII (speculating here - probably as an exposure to a variety of American films) Kurosawa adopted a Wellesian shot design, with strong deep focus.


    The point? He borrowed here and there as well. His ideas and ways of expressing them stemmed off of others. Kurosawa had no problem with it. Lucas has no problem with it. Why should we?
  8. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> It seems you will not be happy until Lucas owns up to a crime he never committed.

    What I really meant to say yesterday was that I won?t be happy until George gives recognition to Kurosawa in the credits of the movie. He owns the rights to SW now, so why not?

    >>>> While some early drafts may have had more similarities, it's obvious they were only place holders while Lucas fleshed out his own story.

    No, this is the earliest draft from which all subsequent drafts came from. Here you can see in plain words that Lucas gets his story from The Hidden Fortress and Sanjuro because he copied whole paragraphs from Kurosawa?s biography. The fact that much of SW occurs in sequence with THF, not to mention that the boy-samurai infiltrating the enemy compound to rescue the chamberlain?s daughter in Sanjuro is identical to Luke and Han prancing around the Death Star to save the princess, speaks volumes as to just how desperate George was to make a film that was just as good, if not better than, American Graffiti. In other words, let?s just copy someone else?s films, but change the samurai into Jedi, change the farmers into robots, hide the McGuffin inside the robots instead of inside the sticks, change spears into ?lazer swords,? and have the heroes ride around in spaceships instead of on horses.

    Dude, go watch THF?s DVD and the SW LD in spit-screen on a big-screen TV, and then come back and tell me (honestly) that you still believe what you have been saying in this thread.
  9. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> That's 3 now.

    Thank you! I was trying to prove to a buddy of mine at work that I had my own internet stalker, and you came out of the woodwork right on cue.
  10. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>>On the flip side, if you do some research, you'll find that Kurosawa's well-know Rashomon, was drawn from two stories by the 1920's Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Kurosawa also drew many of his stories from western literature. Throne of Blood and Ran are based on Shakespeare, and High and Low is based on a detective novel by Ed McBain.

    Except the big difference is that in Kurosawa gives credit where credit due. In the credits for Rashomon there resides the words: ?Based on the short stories, In a Grove and Rashomon, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.? In his film The Idiot it says in the credits: ?Based on the book, The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.? In the credits for the film The Lower Depths it says: ?Based on the Maxim Gorky?s play, The Lower Depths.? In the credits for High and Low it says the story is based on McBain?s book, King?s Ransom. And Kurosawa made it no secret that when he set out to make Throne of Blood and Ran that they were remakes of Shakespeare? s MacBeth and King Lear set in feudal Japan. Even Kurosawa?s film Red Beard gives credit to Dostoevsky?s book, The Insulted and Injured, despite the fact that only one very short sequence in the film comes from that book.

    >>>> Kurosawa's films have strong narrative lines and a good deal of physical action, and he admitted that John Ford, Abel Gance, Frank Capra, William Wyler, and Howard Hawks influenced him.

    The Kurosawa triumvirate is Capra, Ford, and Wyler, and the key words here are ?inspired by.? For example, Kurosawa never took any of their films and re-shot scenes with samurai in the place of cowboys. The closest Kurosawa came to copying a film is One Wonderful Sunday, and even though it is definitely Capra-esque, it is in feeling only?no plotlines or characters were ever heisted from the film.

    >>>> In terms of cinematography, after WWII (speculating here - probably as an exposure to a variety of American films) Kurosawa adopted a Wellesian shot design, with strong deep focus.

    That is erroneous speculation. Actually, if you knew something of the timeline of Kurosawa?s films, then you would also know that his films came out before or in parallel with Orson Welles? films.

    >>>> I've never heard of Kurosawa giving Lucas any feeling of ill-will, like he ripped him off or anything. So if Kurosawa wasn't mad or uspet with Lucas, why should we be? It seems Lucas has the deepest reverance for Kurosawa and as mentioned earlier, helped produce for him.

    Actually, George helped Kurosawa attain financing through 20th Century Fox for Kagemusha in 1980. It was well-known that, up until that point, Fox was fervently trying to buy the rights to The Hidden Fortress because if you remember correctly, they owned the rights to Star Wars. But then, coincidentally, Kagemusha got made and everything was okay. The word was that Fox was never going to finance any film by Kurosawa, especially after the whole Tora! Tora! Tora! fiasco. However, George stepped in and got the funding because, since George didn?t own the rights to SW (Fox did), he threatened that either Kurosawa would get the money he needed directly from Fox or he would help Kurosawa to legally get a cut of what Fox made on Star Wars. Low and behold, exactly one month before Empire came out, Kagemusha was released. What?s more, because of his Japanese sensibilities, Kurosawa never pursued the matter further?he was making films again and he was happy.
  11. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    "Thank you! I was trying to prove to a buddy of mine at work that I had my own internet stalker, and you came out of the woodwork right on cue."

    -----------------
    Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. [Rashomon ] portrays such human beings?the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are. It even shows this sinful need for flattering falsehood going beyond the grave?even the character who dies cannot give up his lies when he speaks to the living through a medium. Egoism is a sin the human being carries with him from birth; it is the most difficult to redeem.

    ? Akira Kurosawa, Something Like an Autobiography
    ------------------
  12. Trojan_Sock Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2003
    star 4
    . [face_laugh]

    Funny how your "conspiracy theory" comes down to a simple case of active topic notification. Heaven forbid anyone should be in the same thread that you are.

    Find a quote to explain that one. [face_plain]
  13. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    So what you're saying, badradio, is that you want Lucas to put in his credits, "Based on THE HIDDEN FORTRESS by Kurosawa" am I reading you right?

    The point is, his films isn't based on THE HIDDEN FORTRESS at all. He derived some things from it, certainly, but STAR WARS is a unique story in and of itself.

    As for Lucas not giving credit where it's due, as far as I know, he has always readily admitted that he drew some inspiration from Kurosawa's films (among other sources) and he he helped fund and produce some of Kurosawa's projects. What other recognition do you expect the man to pay?

    Bottom line: you're expecting Lucas to say, "I stole the story of THE HIDDEN FORTRESS to create STAR WARS," which is simply not the case.
  14. Vanthorne_OX Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 11, 2002
    star 3
    bad radio wrote: "In the credits for Rashomon there resides the words: 'Based on the short stories, In a Grove and Rashomon, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.' ... In the credits for High and Low it says the story is based on McBain?s book, King?s Ransom."

    That's good news. But I didn't know this one way or the other beyond just watching these films. Both prints I saw of these two films had credits that were entirely in Japanese.

    bad radio wrote: "Actually, if you knew something of the timeline of Kurosawa?s films, then you would also know that his films came out before or in parallel with Orson Welles? films."

    I understand the timeline of Kurosawa and Welles' early films. But in this case timeline isn't the only thing to take in account. During WWII American films weren't imported to Japan for obvious reasons. That's not to say Kurosawa never saw an American film during this time period, but if he did, it wasn't through normal means.

    bad radio, before posters speculate on what you want Lucas to do, why don't you detail it out for us some more? Do you want him to mention Kurosawa in some way shape or form in the credits? Or would the DVD Documentary, Behind the Scenes be a more appropriate place? Or both? I think the average person would know more about it, hearing Lucas give a nod to Kurosawa during an interview on the DVD, than if it were to be slipped into the small print credits.
  15. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    Be patient for bad_radio's response. It can take a while to copy whole paragraphs out of a book.
  16. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    You guys win? Star Wars is totally ?original? and ?unique.?

    This marks my last post on these boards. I can only hope that people who discover SW will likewise discover Kurosawa as I did.
  17. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    Not the point....you leave on an incorrect assumption. :(

    MTFBWY :)
  18. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> you leave on an incorrect assumption.

    ?from your point of view
  19. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    "This marks my last post on these boards."

    "?from your point of view "

    Now you are starting to act like Obi-wan.
  20. Vanthorne_OX Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 11, 2002
    star 3
    Hey guys, Kurosawa, remember?

    [image=http://image.pathfinder.com/asiaweek/features/aoc/kurosawa.jpg]

    I enjoyed your posts much better when you were discussing him and not each other.

    bad radio, I still look forward to your suggestions on how far Lucas should go in giving a nod to Kurosawa, and am wondering if you have found anything similar in ROTJ like you did with ANH and ESB, thanks.
  21. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    I thought this was interesting. In my "George Lucas: The Creative Impulse" book (it came with my OT LD's), is says that, at one point. Lucas had considered using an all Japanese cast in ANH.

    It also says he wanted it to be action-packed like "Captain Blood." Anyone seen that film?

    Actually, has anyone here seen "The Hidden Fortress"? I've got it coming soon on my netflix account.
  22. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    The point is, his films isn't based on THE HIDDEN FORTRESS at all. He derived some things from it, certainly, but STAR WARS is a unique story in and of itself.

    It's obvious that ANH isn't a direct rip off of HF. I agree with that. What bugs me is that there are obvious influences and parrelels, which GL denies in the intro to HF DVD. He credits Kurosawa as an influences to GL in general, but denies that HF itself was an influence on ANH. I can't buy that. Too many parrelels.
  23. advent Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 23, 2003
    star 2
    Star Wars is an amalgamation of myths that have been passed on since the beginning of the known past. There are numerous influences that Lucas has acknowledged in some way or another; from mythology to the history of cinema.

    The fact that there are parallels to a great number of things is simply the nature of the beast.

    I think it's great that Star Wars can influence someone to watch the films and read the books that influenced Star Wars. That's acknowledgment if I ever saw it.
  24. Emi-Yan_Tetu Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 2
    I am a proud owner of many Akira Kurosawa DVDs including Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, Stray Dog, Yojimbo and Kagemusha (produced by George Lucas).

    I am a huge Akira Kurosawa fan. I think his films are fantastic. Though I find some of the sstrraainedd comparisons people are making between these films and Star Wars flms completely erroneous. I find comparisons to Hidden Fortress in particular to be incredibly small minded.

    I accept that Lucas has taken inspiration from these films but no more, indeed far LESS I would say, than he took from Flash Gordon, Hero With A Thousand Faces... etc.

    And yes a film can take influence and still be unique and original as I think ANH showed in 1977.
  25. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    I am a proud owner of many Akira Kurosawa DVDs including Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, Stray Dog, Yojimbo and Kagemusha (produced by George Lucas).

    Hold ona second, Throne of Blood is out on DVD? Since when and where can I get a copy?


    I accept that Lucas has taken inspiration from these films but no more, indeed far LESS I would say, than he took from Flash Gordon, Hero With A Thousand Faces... etc.

    I would say Kurosawa has more a visible influence on SW than Gordon, but that Hero With a Thousand Faces definitely has the most influence.
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