Kurosawa's influence on SW

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

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  1. Django211 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 1999
    star 4
    But Kurosawa, Leone & their fans never had a problem admitting their sources of inspiration. In those cases they paid money for remake rights or gave screen credit. The similarities were never dismissed as coincidence.
  2. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    GL has acknowledged Kurosawa. But if he gave an on-screen credit to every element that goes to make up SW the end credits would be longer than the movie. Half the fun of SW is spotting the references to other things.

    I was reading Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon the other day: in one strip Flash is taken by a 'submarine rocket' to an underwater city which 'gleams like a jewel'; he has an audience with the pompous king of the underwater people, who refuses to help him. Is this coincidence? GL has said that FG inlfuenced SW. But this also happens in 'Triplanetary' [Lensman #1] another stated inlfuence. Which is it? Is it both? Or is it '20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea'? Or none? You could go on like that all day and never come to a factual conclusion.

    I think you're argument has run out of steam.
  3. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> Yojimbo inspired Sergio Leone?s A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood) and the genre of "spaghetti-Westerns" that followed. Since Yojimbo was itself inspired by American westerns, Kurosawa was not at all surprised by this "reverse imitation."

    One year after A Fistful of Dollars premiered in Italy, a settlement was reached where Kurosawa would receive 15% of Fistful?s worldwide receipts (Leone initially tried to pass the film off as his own, but even Leone?s contemporaries like Sergio Corbucci recalled Leone ?slaving over a moviola machine and copying Yojimbo, changing only the setting and the details of the dialogue?). In addition, a lawsuit was filed in the states, the result of which pushed back the film?s US release to 1967, and notably no screenplay credits appeared in this version of the film. Likewise, similar lawsuits were filed by Toho and Kurosawa Productions against Fox in 1976 and 1978 for SW because of its likeness to The Hidden Fortress. Who knows whatever became of those lawsuits. All I know is that, after the second lawsuit, Fox all of the sudden provided the funding that Kurosawa needed to finish his film Kagemusha, despite the fact that Kurosawa had pissed off Fox for bailing out on Tora! Tora! Tora!. It?s funny how the guys at Fox went from calling Kurosawa ?mentally unfit? to funding his films.
  4. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    Fox called Kurosawa 'mentally unfit' because he smashed his fist through the window of a parked car, tried to have himself arrested at the local police station, talked openly of feeling suicidal and went around slapping people with his script: the man was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he was definately 'mentally unstable'. He attempted suicide not long after.

    Secondly, Lucas talked Fox into financing 'Kagemusha'.

    SW is not an approximation of HF. SW bears a striking rsemblence to all sorts of things GL had never read, watched or listened to at that point. This is the old Shakespeare equation: if he wrote about war accurately he must have been a soldier; if he wrote about Egypt accurately he must have gone there etc...

    The stuff we Know is in SW is plain to see. If GL says that he didn't steal something I believe him. And if this is any sort of criteria when is PJ going to start paying royalty checks for stealing the magic-fight from 'Willow' or scores of shots (not just one) from Bakshi's LOtRs? Will the W. Bros. be writing that check for ripping off so many concepts and visuals from THX11??
  5. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> bad-radio: it is interesting that when Kurosawa's early films were first screened in the U.S. many critics thought they saw exact scenes from John Ford films (and other American directors) simply transposed into a Japanese context - they lauded the Japanese for their ability to imitate!

    I have to admit that we are nothing more than ?dumb Americans.? At first, I can sympathize with those critics because even I can see elements of American Westerns like Stagecoach and High Noon in The Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo. But then you realize that these are the same critics that also said ?Yojimbo is practically a remake of Shane.?

    >>>> Even IF it is a direct copy or tribute or whatever I've already stated that I don't care b'cuz... SW is a Pastiche. It's a collage. It's Man Ray and Joseph Cornell and Andy Warhol. It's modern art - pop/visual/'found' art, not original drama.

    That?s the whole point of this thread?to talk about Kurosawa?s influence on SW.

    >>>> GL has acknowledged Kurosawa. But if he gave an on-screen credit to every element that goes to make up SW the end credits would be longer than the movie. Half the fun of SW is spotting the references to other things.

    Lucas didn?t acknowledge Kurosawa until 1984 when The Hidden Fortress was re-released! He went 7 years without saying anything about Kurosawa and then finally film critics dragged it out of him (no wonder he hates critics). I can agree with you regarding all the SW movies with the exception of ANH. I quoted above what Corbucci said about Leone copying Yojimbo, and I think the same can be said about Lucas copying The Hidden Fortress and Sanjuro. Watch ANH and THF side-by-side, and then try to imagine Lucas standing over a moviola machine with a reel of THF. It?s easy if you try. Whole shots are recreated in sequence with the plot of both films. Dialogue was heisted. I?m not the only one who seems to think so.
  6. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> Fox called Kurosawa 'mentally unfit' because he smashed his fist through the window of a parked car, tried to have himself arrested at the local police station, talked openly of feeling suicidal and went around slapping people with his script: the man was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he was definately 'mentally unstable'. He attempted suicide not long after.

    Kurosawa was trying to get out from under his contract at Fox. From what I?ve read and heard, Kurosawa was promised a lot of things by execs at Fox (i.e., David Lean directing the American half, not getting real pilots, etc.), and when he learned of their deceit he tried to get out and that?s ultimately what happened.

    >>>> Secondly, Lucas talked Fox into financing 'Kagemusha'.

    And how?d he do that??? After all the money Fox wasted on Kurosawa, you think they really wanted to partner up with him again? And why would Toho go along with it? Because of the partnership they developed with Fox for international distribution for any film that came out of Toho Studios.
  7. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    bad-radio: it sounds like you've read a very confused, incoherent book called "The Emperor & The Wolf", blech. Anyway, if what you say is true, this explains why Fox had to be talked into it, doesn't it?

    * * * *
    Beginning with Roshomon I've seen every Kurosawa film at least 50 times. I've watched HF monthly every year since 1990 - I love that film. It's up near the top of my list of fave Kur. films. I don't see ANH as a scene-for-scene sci-fi version of HF. Sorry. No one close to him in the editing stage mentions him referencing a print of HF at all.

    And you missed some shots. There's a shot in TPM that is identical to a shot in Ran. There's a shot in Kagemusha recycled into Willow. Maybe. Maybe it just got lodged in the back of Georgie's brain and he doesn't realize it.

    Also, you know damn well that the title of this thread is misleading. You're accusing GL of out and out theft and calling for him to repent. This isn't a discussion of influence!
  8. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    "Leone initially tried to pass the film off as his own, but even Leone?s contemporaries like Sergio Corbucci recalled Leone ?slaving over a moviola machine and copying Yojimbo, changing only the setting and the details of the dialogue?."

    Eastwood, himself, recognized several Yojimbo elements in the script.

    "You're accusing GL of out and out theft and calling for him to repent."

    Well, at least the "cutting-and-pasting" has gone away. ;)
  9. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> bad-radio: it sounds like you've read a very confused, incoherent book called "The Emperor & The Wolf", blech. Anyway, if what you say is true, this explains why Fox had to be talked into it, doesn't it?

    Fox didn?t have to be talked into anything. There was a pending lawsuit against them, and George Lucas found a solution to their problem. After George ?talked? to Alan Ladd, three things happened. First, both lawsuits against Fox magically went away. Second, Fox gave Kurosawa 3 million dollars to finish Kagemusha. Third, Toho had a new lucrative partnership whereby Fox agreed to fund international distribution and marketing for all of Toho?s subsequent films thru 1995, and Toho likewise gave exclusivity to 20th Century Fox movies at all Toho theaters in Japan (prior to 1993 there were only two exhibitors in Japan: Shochiku and Toho).

    Kurosawa got kicked to the curb, and Lucas has been apologetic ever since. Here?s one simple fact you can?t deny: If it hadn?t been for The Hidden Fortress and Sanjuro, there would have never been a Star Wars.
  10. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    "If it hadn?t been for The Hidden Fortress and Sanjuro, there would have never been a Star Wars.

    Yeah, yeah...and if it hadn't been for Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky...well, you get the picture. The chicken-and-egg syndrome goes back way before Kurosawa.

    BTW, have you even read the first few drafts of Star Wars? [face_laugh]
  11. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> Yeah, yeah...and if it hadn't been for Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky...well, you get the picture. The chicken-and-egg syndrome goes back way before Kurosawa.

    Accept that, as I said waaaaayyy back on page 3, Kurosawa gives credit where it?s due.

    THF and Sanjuro are the backbone for the story of ANH. You can?t say that about The Searchers. You can?t say that about Galactic Patrol. You can?t say that about Dune. You can?t say that about Tales of Power. You can?t say that about Flash Gordon. Without The Hidden Fortress and Sanjuro, SW wouldn?t have a story for Lucas to pour all of his influences into.

    >>>> BTW, have you even read the first few drafts of Star Wars?

    Ask anyone on these boards who has a register date prior to 2002 if I have read the early screenplay drafts of SW?
  12. DARTH_FLACCID Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 1
    Question for those present who believe that GL did not "steal" from Kurosawa:

    what evidence would you have to be shown for you to believe that GL "stole" from Kurosawa?

  13. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    Actually, TPM resembles HF more than ANH.

    You're making way too much from a few shots which may or may not be intentional or unintentional references to HF. Sorry.

    Also. HF is basically a remake of an earlier K. film 'They Who Tread The Tiger's Tail' (the title varies depending on the translator). Both films are based on the same Noh plays.

    In 1962 Michael Grant published a bestselling book called 'Myths Of The Greeks & Romans', a book which would likely have attracted GL when he was in college. This book references Ezra Pound, who happens to have translated one of those Noh plays. It's just as likely that GL read those plays or about those plays and took their general storyline, which are similar to 'Tiger'& 'Fortress', 'ANH' & 'TPM'. This theory is as plausible as yours, since you have no concrete Proof.

  14. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    . . . .don't tell me I've won this argument!?!

    C'mon guys, I might as well paint a target on my forehead: fire away! Make my life a little interesting. . .
  15. ShaakRider Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2002
    star 2
    Sorry Lensman, I have to say your theory is not very plausible, since Lucas acknowledged Kurosawa's influence, though not to the extent he seems to be influenced (but if he didn't, I'd still prefer the Kurosawa-theory, due to Occam's razor and because would be hard to copy shots from a play). Plus as long as you don't post those plays here, we have not much to talk about ;)
  16. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    Aaah, the sweet aura of controversy, lifeblood of the message board!

  17. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    [Oliver Stone] It's a conspiracy! [/Oliver Stone]
  18. DARTH_FLACCID Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 1
    Lensman, I'd like you to answer my above question...
  19. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    Since when do I take order from You?!?!

    Wait, please, I take it back, don't hurt me!!
    :)

    Q: Mr. Lucas to wrap up this interview I have one last question: are any shots in the SW films copied directly from other people's films?
    A: Well, in ANH there's that shot from John Ford's 'The Searchers' and of course several copied directly from 'The Hidden Fortress' which was a Kurosawa film.
    Q: Thank you, Mr. Lucas, I'll go home and compare the two films now.
    A: My pleasure.
    * * *
    Listen, I know where you're coming from. It's like Tolkien insisting that he was never inlfuenced by Wagner's Der Ring Des Niblungen. To me this is asburd. Even if the influence was subconscious and forgotten there are scores of things in the Sil. & LOtRs which seem like direct cribs from Wagner's tetrology [which is far more original than people realize]. Tolkien & Lews bonded over Arthur Rackham's 'Ring' illustrations! Yet - JRRT asserted that he was unfamiliar with the operas and never influenced by them. Apart from my own ideas I am forced to accept this as fact: it comes straight from the horse's mouth. I can only point out the apparent similarities.
  20. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> You're making way too much from a few shots which may or may not be intentional or unintentional references to HF.

    I don?t think that I am. You have the 1973 SW synopsis that clearly shows that Lucas was retooling THF and Sanjuro?s stories as his own, and then there is the movie itself:

    1. SW starts off with the Star Destroyer in pursuit of Princess Leia?s ship. This is analogous to the beginning of THF where the Yamana troops, on horseback, are chasing the lone Akizuki foot-soldier. In SW, the Stormtroopers board the ship and proceed to mow down the rebel troops. Meanwhile, notice how no one pays any attention the droids during the melee?Artoo and Threepio are able to walk in and out of the fracas totally unscathed. I cannot stress enough how much this resembles the scene with the Yamana troops and the Akizuki soldier; everyone ignores the two lowly peasants in this scene as well. The Yamana troops kill the Akizuki soldier, and then momentarily they stare at Tahei and Matashichi. The Yamanas then ride on past the two peasants and continue their hunt for more Akizuki soldiers.


    2. For the reason that droids are the lowest persons on the pecking order, the Imperials pay no regard to Artoo and Threepio and they are thus able to break away from their run in with the Empire. Likewise, the peasants are able to escape their encounter with the Yamanas. Soon after, the two droids get to bickering with one another, and as a result they split up; correspondingly, the two peasants get into an argument and go their separate ways.


    3. Separation and freedom are short-lived, however, as both the droids and the peasants are reunited in their respective films when they are picked up and made into slaves. Next in THF, the peasants escape when there is a slave revolt (you can find this same revolt in the second draft of SW?s screenplay), and in ANH the droids? escape comes in the form of Owen Lars.¹


    4. It?s at this point in both films that the ?McGuffin? is discovered by the heroes: Tahei and Matashichi discover a bar of Akizuki gold inside a stick of wood, and Luke discovers the Princess?s message inside Artoo. Subsequently, Luke goes looking for Artoo who has run off, and the peasants search incessantly for more sticks with gold in them. Their quests lead them to General Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Rokurota Makabe, respectively.


    5. In THF, General Rokurota is in hiding from the Yamanas and he is also safeguarding Princess Yuki, the last of the Akizuki clan. In SW, General Kenobi is hiding from the Empire, and later we?ll learn that not only was he hiding, but at the same time he was keeping watch over Luke, the last of Jedi.


    6. Princess Leia?s message, which Luke and the droids bring to Obi-Wan, spurs the old Jedi to come out of hiding and make a break for Alderaan. Likewise, the peasants? idea of cutting through Yamana territory to get to allied, Hayakawa territory, prompts Rokurota to come out of hiding. (Additionally, Rokurota?s sister sacrifices herself as a decoy for the Princess. This also factors into the timing of Rokurota and Princess Yuki?s escape. Coincidentally, it is Leia?Luke?s sister?who gives herself up and really sets things into motion. Also, the use of the decoy to aid in the Princess?s escape shows up in the rough draft and first draft of SW?s screenplay.)


    7. The two groups set out on their own adventures. However, before things really get going, in SW, Luke and Obi-Wan come across a group of slaughtered Jawas?the same Jawas who sold Luke the droids. Turns out they were murdered by Stormtroopers who were looking for the droids, and this prompts Luke to go back to the homestead where he finds his aunt and uncle dead. In THF, when Rokurota, Yuki, and the peasants set out from the hidden fortress with the Akizuki gold in tow, Rokurota goes and scouts ahead of the group, which gives the peasants an opportunity to try and steal all the gold. The
  21. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
  22. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    badradio: obviously noone cares. so write a an article for a cinema magazine about it [you've written it three times already in this thread - why waste it here?] expose Lucas or let it go already. but noone around here agrees with you or is interested, obviously. and read my last post.
  23. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    i care.

    what more do you need to see? youve just been shown overwhelming evidence that Lucas has plundered heavily and freely from Kurosawa, and that is just ANH so far. you choose to ignore it Lensman, i choose to see it, understand it, be completely aware of it, and still love Star Wars, even though its creator stole almost everything in it from someone else. the only one presenting any evidence here is bad radio, and what a mountain of undeniable evidence it is.

    "but noone around here agrees with you or is interested, obviously. and read my last post."

    just because you try to shoot down or dismiss or ignore the people on this very page who agree with him does not mean "noone agrees"
  24. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    I rewatched the Kurosawa films in question over the weekend and I don't agree. Yeah, there are assorted shots in ANH and in other places that are obvious tips of the hat to other films and yes that's part of the style but I disagree with the 'stealing' part. That's just ridiculous. 'Lucas stole everything' - noone can state that as a fact. It is conjecture. Also, I could make a far more convincing argument that SW is a frame-by-frame assembly of shots from other films. I don't think a good case was made. I'm not convinced. If I weren't posting in this thread it would have died out weeks ago. That's what I mean by 'noone cares'.
  25. DARTH_FLACCID Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 1
    'Lucas stole everything' - noone can state that as a fact. It is conjecture.

    it is only conjecture until someone does a scene-by-scene comparision of these movies w/ others

    Also, I could make a far more convincing argument that SW is a frame-by-frame assembly of shots from other films.

    which you're welcome to do and I'd love to see. but until you do so, that's just conjecture.

    I don't think a good case was made. I'm not convinced.

    you said above that the only way you'd be convinced is by Lucas admitting it in detail. part of the argument is that he's been dishonest about how much of an influence Kurosawa had upon him.

    so let's try this again: assuming that GL wouldn't admit it, is there anything that you would accept as evidence that he pilfered these shots/scenes from other movies?

    If I weren't posting in this thread it would have died out weeks ago. That's what I mean by 'noone cares'.

    maybe it also means "we've all been convinced". or do you think we'd stick around saying "wow, you're right" for days and days?
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