Okay, let’s get this out of the way right at the top: This feudal Japanese adventure is not the movie that ”The Seven Samurai,” ”Yojimbo,” or ”Rashomon” is. However, when you’re dealing with a filmmaker like Akira Kurosawa, even the minor entries are still dulcet movements of a grand cinematic symphony. The Hidden Fortress is perhaps best known as one of the source materials that George Lucas used to craft a certain sci-fi blockbuster.
The fact that this story — of a rebellious general and the young princess he must escort across enemy lines — unspools from the point of view of two nattering buddies that evoke a familiar pair of droids isn’t the only way that ”Star Wars” echoes ”The Hidden Fortress”: The cross screen transitional wipes, the jaunty music, and the hardscrabble desert scenery are all tools that Lucas appropriated. And he admits as much in an interview recorded especially for this DVD.
Sadly, there isn’t much else in the way of bonus goodies on this disc. But that’s not such a big deal. You get a pristine wide screen pressing of a film made by a motion picture maestro, starring the magnetic Toshiro Mifune. If you want more than that, maybe you want too much.