Few would disagree that Star Wars is a cinematic masterpiece, but its origins lie not just in Lucas’s imagination, but in the works of legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. One film in particular, “The Hidden Fortress,” served as a crucial inspiration for Lucas’s space opera.
Released in 1958, “The Hidden Fortress” tells the story of two greedy peasants who get caught up in transporting a princess and a general through enemy lines. Lucas was struck by the film’s narrative structure, particularly its use of the peasants’ perspective to frame the larger conflict. This inspired him to tell Star Wars through the eyes of R2-D2 and C-3PO, two bumbling droids thrust into the midst of a galactic rebellion.
The influence of “The Hidden Fortress” goes beyond narrative. The film’s use of wipe transitions, a signature of Kurosawa’s style, found its way into Star Wars, and even the design of the Imperial crest bears a resemblance to the Akizuki family crest in the samurai film. While the two films are set in vastly different worlds, the echoes of “The Hidden Fortress” are undeniable, a testament to Kurosawa’s enduring legacy and his influence on a galaxy far, far away.