Kurosawa's influence on SW

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

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  1. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    I've been countering the argument DF.

    My contention is this: the argument made was weak. Secondly, a first year film or lit student could easily pick out most of the bits taken from other sources. Not a big deal. This has been an 'open secret' since the earliest reviews.

    The idea that Lucas is 'guilty' of something is a joke. As far as he's been able he's pointed out the sources for SW. Maybe he's missed a few, or those statements have been edited out of interviews as superfluous material or you haven't read everything he's said about SW.

    I could easily argue that most of SW was derived from Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon comic, L. Frank Baum's Oz series, Frank Herbert's Dune or the Orestia by Aeschylus. What's the point? There's a ton of stuff in there. Scrooge McDuck is in there [and acknowledged source]! It comes from all over the place. As I said before, and Lucas has stated this many times, SW is an excersise in editorial creativity. There isn't a single source. The whole concept is to fuse sources into new juxtopositions which suggest a unique narrative thread; this is impressionism, or a form of impressionism. e.g. SW works least when it attempts to operate like a novel or conventional drama - the most effective references are those which have no real back story. Why? See above. It's part and parcel of the aeshetic.

    I've found familiar shots in Fritz Lang, Satyajit Ray and Korda Bros. films to name a few. Woo-hoo! Studying sources is one thing but accusing the man of something he hasn't done - namely steal - is another.
    *
    PS: When I say Dritz Lang I don't mean Metropolis. Can you tell me what shot I'm talking about specifically? C'mon, you're a jr. movie detective you can do it!
  2. -_-_-_-_-_- Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2002
    star 6
    I recently purchased the Throne of Blood and Seven Samurai DVDs, and hopefully I will get Hidden Fortress soon enough.
  3. GOD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 1999
    There is nothing original about Star Wars besides the revolutionary special effects. I'm won't say "stolen" because the gusher force will club me over the head. But besides the obvious Kurosawa influence on Star Wars, here are other influences...


    The opening crawl of the Star Wars films were taken directly from Flash Gordon. The liquid like screen on the federation ship was also taken from that particular serial.

    The Battle of Yavin was taken from old World War 2 footage, shot by shot.

    The celebartion on Naboo was taken directly from Dinotopia. The creator of the movie who had shown concepts of the celebration in Dinotopia, before Lucas made TPM, was shocked to see his celebration scene in Episode I.

    The periscope that comes out of Jabba's Door in ROTJ was taken from the Wizard of Oz.

    The Coruscant city scape was first seen in "Metropolis", then later in "Blade Runner" and again was most recently in "The Fifth Element". In fact, that chase scene through the city in which the taxi that Bruce Willis was nose diving into the city depths, looks suspiciously similiar to Anakin's nose dive on Coruscant.


    Those are just a few examples....I'm sure there are many more.
  4. GOD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 1999
    The 1997 video release of the OT has an inteview with Carrie Fisher in which she said that Lucas "took" from Kurosawa.

    The fact that the 1973 synoposis of Star Wars was nearly exactly the same to THF is "the smoking gun" IMO.

    Of course like many have noted, Lucas has taken little tidbits from many films that were made before Star Wars. The great westerns, old samurai films, war movies, and old serials were all influences. But Kurosawa is by far the biggest influence on Star Wars. I would go as far as saying that without Kurosawa, Star Wars would have never been the way it turned out.
  5. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Many Dashes, just picked up Throne of Blood, myself. I'm sure you will enjoy both movies. They indeed set an excellence in film-making.

    Big G, yes, I never accused SW of being original, except in visual designs used in the OT. But, that is in no way a bad thing. Original isn't always better. Heck, it isn't even always good.

    I agree that there are several "smoking guns" showing that GL borrowed from Kurosawa. The entire Threepio and R2 in the desert is just like the opening of THF, where the two peasants find themselves wondering in the barren wastelands of a war-torn Japan, get mad at each other, part ways, both get arrested and brought back together as captives. Added to the fact that GL said he got the idea of starting SW from the POV of the "little guy" (in this case, the droids) from THF is all the proof you need. I don't think this is bad, nor immoral, nor illegal. I just think it's obvious evidence that he did, indeed, borrow from THF.
  6. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    Everyone should listen to Michael Jeck?s commentary on the Throne of Blood Criterion DVD? especially when he introduces Toshiro Mifune and Minoru Chiaki. He introduces Chiaki as ?R2-D2? since Chiaki played one of the peasants in The Hidden Fortress. He also mentions that THF is ?the original Star Wars.?

    EDIT: Jeck mentions that the Western directors have been ?ripping-off, stealing, or ?being influenced by??if you want to be more diplomatic about it?Kurosawa for years.? The first director he mentions as being guilty of this is? you guessed it, George Lucas.
  7. DARTH_FLACCID Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 1
    Lensman-

    My contention is this: the argument made was weak. Secondly, a first year film or lit student could easily pick out most of the bits taken from other sources. Not a big deal. This has been an 'open secret' since the earliest reviews.

    I'll believe that the earliest reviews of Star Wars do mention Hidden Fortress. But what about the plot of TPM? That's also close to Hidden Fortress.

    As I said before, and Lucas has stated this many times, SW is an excersise in editorial creativity. There isn't a single source. The whole concept is to fuse sources into new juxtopositions which suggest a unique narrative thread; this is impressionism, or a form of impressionism. e.g. SW works least when it attempts to operate like a novel or conventional drama - the most effective references are those which have no real back story. Why? See above. It's part and parcel of the aeshetic.

    that's fine if we're talking about parts of the plot or story elements or even dialogue, to some extent. but when there are shot-by-shot comparisions between these movies and ones he said had "influenced" him, then it becomes a case of intellectual dishonesty. And if whole plots are too much in correlation, it becomes theft.

    I've found familiar shots in Fritz Lang, Satyajit Ray and Korda Bros. films to name a few. Woo-hoo! Studying sources is one thing but accusing the man of something he hasn't done - namely steal - is another.

    until you list specific citations, as others have done, there's little reason for us to believe you.
  8. chongnam Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2003
    star 1
    The full Japanese name for Hidden Fortress is "Kakushi Toride no San Akunin" which i would translate as something like "The Hidden Fortress's Three Bad Men"

    Akunin = Bad man
    Anakin = Vilian

    Strange, huh?
  9. waheennay Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2000
    star 4
    I always thought GL got the name "Anakin" from Ken Annakin, the director of The Swiss Family Robinson. Oh well. My favorite character from a Kurosawa movie will always be "Sanjuro" from the movies Yojimbo (1961)and Sanjuro(1962), played by the great Toshiro Mifune. He's the most bad-ass samurai ever! The way he killed at least a dozen armed soldiers singlehandedly in Sanjuro...wow. I want to see Anakin do that to the Jedi the same way in Episode III!
  10. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    The full Japanese name for Hidden Fortress is "Kakushi Toride no San Akunin" which i would translate as something like "The Hidden Fortress's Three Bad Men"

    Akunin = Bad man


    Only, he used tha name Anakin in earlier drafts in the place of the Luke character, so I don't think there is a connection.
  11. TK327 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 7, 2001
    star 4
    I'd have to say that my view on this is similar to that of zombie's.

    I think it takes a fair bit of talent to take existing material and transform it into something new. Although I'm acutely aware of the numerous similarities between SW and THF, the experience of watching each film is distinctly different. And that difference is due to the artistry of Lucas.

  12. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    then who gets the credit for all those similarities, if you credit Lucas with the few differences?
  13. TK327 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 7, 2001
    star 4
    Obviously Kurosawa is responsible for the similarities. I'm definetely in agreement with bad radio and you in suggesting that Kurosawa's influence is a strong one. But I do think that Lucas deserves credit for what he's done with Kurosawa's material. That said, I also think that Lucas's ego may be getting in the way of his admitting to the degree of Kurosawa's influence. Whether it's intentional or subconscious, it's definitely there.
  14. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
  15. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    Kurosawa did the same thing. He mentioned the obvious influence of Noh drama on certain films he'd made - in the critical community this was blown way out of proportion. K. couldn't escape the 'Noh' label - in the end he seriously downplayed the influence of Noh dramas on his films. Artists do this because people are annoying - they latch onto a single idea and beat it to death. They can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak. I don't blame Lucas for discouraging this too-easy and one-dimensional approach to understanding his films.
  16. TK327 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 7, 2001
    star 4
    Hey, I was trying to strike some kind of balance here. I thought I made it pretty clear that I feel SW is an impressive artistic accomplishment, regardless of what may have inspired it. And you will find that many of us here take pleasure in noting the similarities between the works of K. and L. It offers a different perspective from which to enjoy SW. Knowing that K. took inspiration from Shakespeare, Noh plays, and hard-boiled detective stories does the same (at least for me).
  17. UK Sullustian Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 1998
    star 4
    If we're going to mention "homages" and "swipes" then don't forget that most of the pilot dialogue (and some of the action!) of the final Death Star assault in ANH was lifted from "Dambusters".

    That's just the way of the 70's movie brats like Lucas and De Palma. Constantly referencing other movies, other styles etc.

    UKS

  18. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Thread unlocked and back in the game.

    Anyone else have anything on this they'd like to share?
  19. ZodVertigo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    I think we should all stop being so nitpicky and watch movies to enjoy and to be entertained. That's what I do, why can't everyone else?
  20. YYZ-2112 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2004
    star 4
    I think Lucas used the basic theme of Hidden Fortress when constructing the plot points in Star Wars. Also a lot of the same spirit is evendent in many of the shots; particularly the final shot of both films and the duel between Toshiro Mifune and the Antagonist.

    Still though, Lucas moved the conflict into space and added a level of fantasy and sci fi to the mix. Also the storyline differs enough that it's clearly not a ripoff. It just used a similar conflict dealing with the rescue of a princess and used original characters and environments.

    A few other films have done similar things but to a much more flagrant degree.

    The Magnificent Seven = Seven Samurai
    A Fistful of Dollars = Yojimbo

    Also the masterful money exchange used in Kurasawa's High and Low has been stolen in a few films. This consisted of the kidnapper demanding the ransom be carried onto a train and at an unknown moment he tells the carrier to throw it from the window. It was a brilliantly executed sequence in originality that has been ripped off for atleast two recent films. Sadly, I can't remember the names of the films.
  21. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    I think we should all stop being so nitpicky and watch movies to enjoy and to be entertained. That's what I do, why can't everyone else?

    You miss the point of this thread. Lucas himself has confessed an influence of Kurosawa. This thread is to explore that influence.
  22. severian28 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2004
    star 5
    The name " Obi-Wan Kenobi " is a pretty blatant Kurasawa influence. Mifune was supposed to play the Jedi, even.
  23. YYZ-2112 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2004
    star 4
    Mifune playing the Obi Wan would have been sweet.
  24. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Mifune was supposed to play the Jedi, even.

    Play Obi-wan? I doubt it. He doesn't speak English (or enough to play an English speaking character).
  25. a. block Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 1999
    star 1
    Mifune spoke English in some movie with Charles Bronson.

    Just looked it up on imdb, it's called 'Soleil rouge' in 1971.

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