Kurosawa's influence on SW

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Moderators: Darth_Nub, Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn
  1. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    I was talking about the original Star Wars movie which I think is what Lucas was talking about when he said "Star Wars" wasn't like "The Hidden Fortress".

    I noticed that there were posters here on this thread who spoke of the Princess Yuki/Queen Amidala connection but I think Lucas was just referring to the original movie in the interview that's on "The Hidden Fortress" DVD. I don't have "The Hidden Fortress" so I can't check it out right now, but I'm not saying that the Yuki/Amidala connection doesn't exist.

    Since you're a Kurosawa fan, Stryphe: Did you ever compare "Yojimbo" to "A Fistful of Dollars"?
    I just did the other day. I like Sergio Leone but I wonder if he really thought he could get away with that. I guess if "A Fistful of Dollars" would have been a flop then Kurosawa wouldn't have went after Leone for restitution.

    I got the Netflix membership and just watched "Sanjuro" today. They're good movies but it would help if they would put a voice over commentary on the DVD's like they did with "Seven Samauri" because I need some of the aspects of the culture explained to me. Like when the peasant girl was willing to give herself to the young samauri in "Seven Samauri" there is a whole reason as to why she is upset but gives herself to him anyway that was lost on me until I watched it with the commentary turned on.
  2. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    I was talking about the original Star Wars movie which I think is what Lucas was talking about when he said "Star Wars" wasn't like "The Hidden Fortress".

    Well, for the singular movie, no, you're right, I don't think he borrowed too heavily. Mostly it was the droids\peasants parrellel, which GL has admitted as the inspiration. Not to mention the Jedi were originally inspired by samurai. But that's about it.


    Since you're a Kurosawa fan, Stryphe: Did you ever compare "Yojimbo" to "A Fistful of Dollars"?

    No, but I had heard that FoD was a re-make of Yojimbo. I wasn't aware they weren't licensed to do so, though.

    As to the commentaries, that would be cool, but Criterion is kind of hit and miss with their special features. A lot of the Kurosawa DVDs do have commentaries, but those two got skipped. I mean, they have zero special features. Kind of annoying. HF doesn't have commentaries, either.
  3. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Actually, Yojimbo and Sanjuro were re-issued by Criterion last year in remastered special editions that have documentaries and commentary tracks. Kurosawa's films were some of the earliest DVDs they put out so a lot of them have bad A/V and no extras but CRiterion have been re-issuing some of them in improved special editions; Hidden Fortress I think probably won't because the transfer was newer and it had a supplemental interview (as opposed to a more critical candidate like the horrendous current DVD of High and Low).
  4. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    Yeah, Kurosawa or someone got a fistful of yen over that and if you ever compare the 2 movies you'll certainly understand why they sued.

    Cool. I'll have to look into getting a hold of those.
  5. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Oh, right, zombie, yeah, I had heard about those. I pondered pioking them up, but I think I'll hold out for high def. 7S was actually the second Criterion DVD to be released, and it had a good selection of features, so I was surprised the others got the shaft.


    Yeah, Kurosawa or someone got a fistful of yen over that and if you ever compare the 2 movies you'll certainly understand why they sued.

    I watched Yojimbo with a friend of mine who was an Eastwood fan, and his response was "wow, its the same movie".
  6. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    It's like Star Wars and Eragon. Right down to the sunset.
  7. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    So you never watched "Fistful of Dollars"?

  8. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Nope. I hated Westerns as a kid, so I watched very few (and thus have become very behind on the genre). I didn't learn to appreciate the genre until I took a class on it in college.
  9. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    I was exactly the same way. I came to appreciate westerns in my adult years because when I was a kid it was all about Star Wars, Indy, Snake Plissken, Conan, and Terminator. I just didn't know "High Noon", "Shane", and the original "3:10 to Yuma" were great movies because I was just a kid and even though they have some really cheesy melodrama in them they're great movies about the human experience. The thing is: It's not really about the western genre when it comes to the dollars trilogy. It's about Sergio Leone. Anyone who likes movies should appreciate the dollars trilogy especially "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" which is one of the greatest movies ever. It's really not about Eastwood being great but he is cool in the movie. Eli Wallach is the one who is awesome in the movie. He's just freaking awesome as Tuco and Lee Van Cleef is great too. The duel at the end of the movie is pretty much the greatest merge of music, sound, and visuals of any movie ever.
    Sergio's other loose trilogy is good too but I'm not a big fan of "Once Upon A Time In America" which is part of that loose trilogy. "Once Upon A Time...The Revolution" is good and "Once Upon A Time In The West" is an incredible work of art and is the pinnacle of Sergio's career as a western film maker.


    John Milius is a huge Sergio Leone fan and I believe in that George Lucas interview on "The Hidden Fortress" DVD, Lucas credits Milius with introducing Lucas to Kurosawa. Lucas made it sound like Milius pretty much had to drag Lucas into a Kurosawa movie that was showing on the USC campus one day.


  10. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Well, I haven't watched many Sergio Leone movies, either, but I'll make a point to try and watch the Man with No Man trilogy. The professional-styled westerns, which the Man with No Man trilogy can be classified as, was my least favorite sub-genre of the western, so I had not been inclined to see them before now, but I'll take you on your word that they are good. They are definitely very popular.
  11. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    As a huge fan of the western genre, I'd say Good, The Bad and The Ugly easily eclipses anything that John Ford ever did, not to take away from Ford's accomplishments in the genre. But Leone was the real genius of the western, IMO, even if it wasn't always a totally realistic one--but it certainly felt real, as real as cinema is capable of making an enviornment seem, and the picaresque elements of TGTBATU really elevate it to one of few true "epics" of the genre. The modern western film owes much more to Leone than to Ford, so if you haven't seen a Leone western its like saying "I don't like space fantasy movies" but then not having seen Star Wars, if you follow what I am getting at.
  12. BaronLandoCalrissian Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2006
    star 3
    I believe Lucas told somebody (Robert Watts?) early on that Once Upon a Time in the West was one of the movies he wanted to emulate going into production in Tunisia.
  13. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Well, to be honest, I was never a fan of any western director. Yes, Ford did lots of classic stuff, and I appreciate that, but other than that I never appreciated anyone as a definitive or superior director of the genre, and really took each work on its own merit. I've seen several westerns from the time period and sub-genre of The Man with No Man, and didn't much care for them, thus my lack of enthusasm for seeing these particular films, but the more I hear, the more I would like to see them.
  14. MatthewZ Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2003
    star 4

    Its Man with No NAME, right?

  15. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    Well if I was you I would just watch "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" and if you don't like it then don't bother watching "Fistful of Dollars" and "For A Few Dollars More". "TGTBATU" is the best of the 3. "Fistful of Dollars" had a very tight budget and it really is a shameless knock off of "Yojimbo" but don't get me wrong I like "Fistful of Dollars". However, it really doesn't get any better than "TGTBATU" as for as a movie that thoroughly entertains, has wonderful deep focus shots accompanied with a great musical score, and it even has a thing or three to say about the human experience. Like I kinda mentioned earlier, Clint Eastwood may have become the mega movie star from that movie but it was Eli Wallach who stole the show.

    Oh and this is just my opinion but if you think Al Pacino is great as Tony Montana in "Scarface", like so many people do, then check out Rod Steiger's character named Juan Miranda in Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time...The Revolution". Maybe it's just a coincidence or maybe Rod Steiger got it from someone else but it appears Al Pacino borrowed heavily from Rod Steiger's Juan Miranda. I like to think Rod Steiger stole it from Eli Wallach's Tuco character from "TGTBATU" and just took the Tuco character to the next level. Actually originally Eli Wallach was supposed to play Juan Miranda but the studio forced Sergio to use Rod Steiger because Steiger had just won an Oscar or something.



  16. GreenLantern_Jedi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 1
    Oh God, not again - every few years the "Lucas/Kurosawa" thread pops up again.
    Hasn't this been covered to death...?

  17. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Please post material that is productive to the discussion. If you can only question or criticise the very existence of a thread, there is no point in posting at all.
  18. GreenLantern_Jedi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 1
    I have a more interesting idea for a discussion:
    Compare the creative relationship between Lucas & Spielberg to that of Kurosawa & Ishiro Honda.

    At least it hasn't been done before.
  19. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Well, you can either create a thread proposing that idea, or you can weave it into the current thread, since it seems to apply to the discussion at hand.

    We eagerly await your refreshing perspective.
  20. GreenLantern_Jedi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 1
    Right - well, to throw my hat in the ring, there are very interesting parallels between Honda/Kurosawa & Lucas/Spielberg. Honda was 'trained' at Toho to direct 'women's interest' dramas (much as Spielberg was trained in television) while Kurosawa broke free of constraints early on (emerging from the war-time propaganda films unit) with his period/Kabuki based film "The Men Who Tread The Tiger's Tail"*. Honda's career path was altered permanently when he directed "Gojira" in the mid-1950's. Honda became the enthusiastic director of sci-fi spectacles (such as "The Mysterians") and the color Gojira family films ("King Kong Vs. Godzilla" - on and off - through "Terror Of Mechagodzilla"). This can be compared to Lucas's film career - starting with small films, but succeeding at the box office with crowd pleasing genre movies(I believe that Honda was Japan's most successful director until he retired early, in the 1970's) while his friend, Kurosawa, known for gangster movies & violent Samurai action epics, ascended to new heights starting with the film "Red Beard" (not to undermine the importance of "Ikiru" or "Roshomon" in K's career) - much as "The Color Purple" changed Spielberg's career drastically. But like Spielberg & Lucas, Kurosawa & Honda remained close friends (even neighbors at times). Much as Spielberg contributed to "Revenge of the Sith" & the friends teamed again on Indiana Jones IV, Honda was the most important figure in Kurosawa's resurgence as a director, going on to co-direct the big battles in "Kagemusha" and "Ran", and collaborating closely with Kurosawa on "Dreams" through "Rhapsody In August."

    There seem to be some real Kurosawa experts on this Thread, so I'll let them take over.

    * This film was based on several Japanese historical folk tales & related Kabuki & Noh plays. The plot-line is surprisingly similar to "Hidden Fortress, "A New Hope" & especially "The Phantom Menace".
    http://kabuki21.com/kanjincho.php
  21. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I guess there is something to be said in that Honda sometimes worked with Kurosawa on his films, but the Spielberg-Lucas relationship is most notable for the Indiana Jones series, which the Honda-Kurosawa relationship has no parallel. When you take away Indiana Jones the Spielberg-Lucas relationship is like many in the industry in that two filmmaking friends often influence and have a hand in each others films from time to time, though even this is pretty minimal in the case of Lucas and Spielberg.

    A better relationship comparison might be Coppola>Lucas and Yamamoto>Kurosawa.
  22. GreenLantern_Jedi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 1
  23. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Yamamoto was Kurosawa's mentor. Kurosawa first got into the business after answering an advertisment looking for Assistant Director's for Toho. He learned the ropes from Kajiro Yamamoto, who took Kurosawa under his wing and showed him how to direct films. Kurosawa was young at the time and always credits Yamamoto as his mentor, and says that he basically learned all of his practical technique during his position as not only Yamamoto's key assistant, but as his close friend and creative collaborator. Yamamoto basically groomed him as a director and if I remember correctly Kurosawa made the transition to directing by directing the second-unit sequences of some of Yamamoto's films. Yamamoto was very well-established at Toho, and Kurosawa gained a lot of opportunities since Toho knew that he was one of Yamamoto's most trusted collaborators.

    Lucas entered the business by basically winning a contest and being placed under Coppola, not all that different from Kurosawa. Like Kurosawa and Yamamoto, Lucas and Coppola struck a deep friendship and Lucas became Coppola's personal assistant; knowing that Lucas wanted to direct, Coppola began showing him the ropes and taught him (or tried, at least) how to write and handle performances; he was his mentor. While Kurosawa had a more traditional apprenticeship in a properly heirechal role as an A.D., Lucas' apprenticeship was not in any union as Kurosawa's was, so his is more untraditional and ecclectic, an appropriate contrast for the non-union independent world that Lucas came from. He observed and learned not through the union ladder system but by being first an observer (on Finian's Rainbow), then an assistant (on Finian's Rainbow), and finally a documentarian (on the Rain People). Lucas graduated to directing at the promotion of Coppola, who set-up a deal with Warner brothers and produced the film himself (THX1138 @ Zoetrope studios). Of course Lucas was not the veteran that Kurosawa was by the time he began directing (Kurosawa had been ADing for seven years and had served a fine apprenticeship), he was still brand new to the filmmaking system, so he continued to rely on Coppola as a pseduo-mentor figure basically until Star Wars. I think a lot of the collaboration of the New Hollywood people, and in particular Lucas' circle, was that they were simply so young that they didn't really know much about making movies; as they got older and more experienced they slowly drifted apart as a suppport group (though there are other factors at play there).
  24. GreenLantern_Jedi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 1
    I see possibilities in exploration of both parallels.
    Let's keep this going.

    >the Spielberg-Lucas relationship is most notable for the Indiana Jones series<
    Hmm. That seems more like a matter of opinion to me. CS Lewis & Jrr Tolkien never got to collaborate on a project, yet their friendship was creatively important in many other ways. To me the Lucas/Copolla/Spielberg relationship isn't as notable for their collaborations as it is for their friendship - their support of each other,plus their pioneering the same concepts over the same period (an intellectual relationship).
  25. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    But then one could find parallel in any filmmakers. All directors have fellow director friends that inevitably influence and support each other. The only thing that differentiates Lucas and Spielberg was that they co-created a film which ranks among their most popular and bridges the gap between their each respective cinematic stylisations.
Moderators: Darth_Nub, Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.