Akira Kurosawa forged an international reputation with complex, challenging films such as Drunken Angel and Rashomon, but he was not unaware of the movie-going public's love for escapist fantasies. His 1958 film Hidden Fortress was just such a film, but the Kurosawa visual flair is still very much evident. Two bumbling peasants (Kamatari Fujiwara and Minoru Chiaki) on the losing side of a recent battle run afoul of determined General Rokurota Makabe (Toshiro Mifune), who is trying to safeguard a young princess (Misa Uehara) and her fortune back to the family lands while their enemies furiously pursue them. Star Wars fans may find that plot familiar, and will no doubt recognize a certain pair of droids in some of the peasants' interplay, but don't dwell on it. Kurosawa's use of the wide-scope Tohovision (an innovation at the time) as a storytelling aid and the rollicking nature of the film are much more interesting than trainspotting directorial influences — save that for post-viewing discussion. Hidden Fortress screens at 7:30 p.m. at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries). Tickets are $5 to $6.
Fri., July 23, 2010