Posted at 11:37 AM on May 2, 2006
by Euan Kerr
Watching Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" is worth doing just to look at the faces of Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. They play the two peasants, Tahei and Matakishi, who go to war hoping to get rich, but even as the film begins they have already lost everything except their lives.
They are at times desperate, joyous, mean, and devious, particularly when they get swept up in a plot to smuggle Princess Yuki to safety. She is the sole surviving leader of a defeated clan, protected by a fierce and devious General, played by Toshiro Mifune.
It's well known that the peasant pair inspired George Lucas to center the Star Wars stories around two lowly droids, R2D2 and C3PO. Yet what a sacrifice he made by choosing central characters with fixed faces.