The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Brief Intro

Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 classic, The Hidden Fortress, is an adventurous journey through feudal Japan. Following the misadventures of two bumbling peasants and a fierce princess, the film combines action, humor, and drama, influencing generations of filmmakers, including George Lucas for Star Wars.

Literary Devices Used in The Hidden Fortress


Movie SceneDevice Example
The journey through enemy territoryThe hidden fortress as a metaphor for inner strength.
Princess Yuki’s disguiseHer peasant guise as a metaphor for humility and survival


Movie SceneDevice Example
Tahei and Matashichi’s relationshipCompared to a pair of quarreling children
The general’s strategic maneuversLike a chess player moving pieces on a board


Movie SceneDevice Example
Peasants’ ignorance of the gold’s significanceDramatic irony as the audience knows the stakes
Princess Yuki’s demeanorHer royal mannerisms clash ironically with her disguise


Movie SceneDevice Example
The early capture of Tahei and MatashichiForeshadows their crucial role in the princess’s journey
Rokurota’s combat readinessSuggests upcoming battles and his military prowess


Movie SceneDevice Example
The hidden fortressSymbolizes sanctuary and the hope of restoration
The gold hidden in sticksRepresents hidden value and the cost of rebellion


Movie SceneDevice Example
Rokurota’s honor codeAlludes to the samurai Bushido code
Princess Yuki’s leadershipReferences legendary warrior queens in Japanese history


Movie SceneDevice Example
Nature during the journeyThe landscape seems alive, reflecting the characters’ emotions
The fortress’s defensesDescribed as having a will of their own, resisting invaders


Movie SceneDevice Example
The peasant duo vs. the noble princessHighlights class differences and mutual dependency
Scenes of war vs. moments of peaceContrasts to emphasize the cost of conflict


Movie SceneDevice Example
Tahei and Matashichi’s reactionsExaggerated for comedic effect
Rokurota’s feats in battlePortrayed with larger-than-life bravado


Movie SceneDevice Example
Repeated emphasis on goldGold as a recurring motif representing greed and survival
Disguises and hidden identitiesMotif of deception and revelation throughout the film

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Princess Yuki

SymbolismHer royal blood symbolizes hope and continuity of the kingdom
IronyHer fierce leadership contrasts with her disguised appearance

Rokurota Makabe

AllusionAlludes to samurai honor and loyalty
MetaphorHis unwavering dedication as a metaphor for the ideal samurai

Tahei and Matashichi

HyperboleTheir exaggerated reactions highlight the film’s comedic tone
JuxtapositionTheir bumbling nature contrasts with the noble characters

Character Dynamics

  • Princess Yuki and Rokurota: Their relationship showcases loyalty and duty, using irony and allusion to enhance their bond. Despite the difference in their social status, they depend on each other for survival and success.
  • Tahei and Matashichi’s interactions: Their dynamics provide comic relief and a human touch to the epic narrative, often through hyperbole and juxtaposition. Their greed and foolishness contrast sharply with the nobility of Rokurota and Yuki, yet their journey is integral to the story’s progression.

Thematic Analysis

Courage and Honor

SymbolismRokurota’s actions symbolize the samurai code of honor
MetaphorThe hidden fortress as a metaphor for the heart’s resilience

Survival and Greed

IronyPeasants’ greed ironically leads them to aid a noble cause
MotifRepeated emphasis on gold highlights themes of greed and survival

Identity and Disguise

JuxtapositionContrasting royal and peasant identities to explore themes of disguise
ForeshadowingEarly disguises hint at the characters’ true nature and destinies

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
MetaphorVisual framingThe hidden fortress depicted in shadow, symbolizing secrecy
IronyMusic and sound cuesComedic music during ironic moments of the peasants’ blunders
Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismLighting and colorUse of light and dark to symbolize good vs. evil
ForeshadowingEditing and cutsQuick cuts to foreshadow upcoming conflicts and resolutions

Key Scene Analysis

  1. Escape through the mountains
  2. Princess Yuki reveals her identity
  3. Battle at the Hidden Fortress


Interactive Quiz

  1. Which device is used when Princess Yuki disguises herself as a peasant?
  2. What theme is highlighted through the repeated emphasis on gold?
    • A) Honor
    • B) Identity
    • C) Survival and Greed
    • D) Courage
  3. Which cinematic technique is used to complement the metaphor of the hidden fortress?
    • A) Sound cues
    • B) Visual framing
    • C) Editing cuts
    • D) Music