Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access
Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress.

Hiding in Plain Sight: False Identity and the Use of Space in Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress.

Bryan Mead


While often cast aside as merely a commercial film without much substance, The Hidden Fortress (Kurosawa, 1958) actually works within late-1950s Japanese society as a subtle critique on national and individual identity.  The film functions as a morality tale, questioning the motivating factors behind character actions.  The Hidden Fortress clearly distinguishes between morally pure and morally corrupt characters, yet the judgment is based on similar actions.  Each character in the film pretends to be something that they are not.  Yet, within the use of false identity lies a deeper purpose behind the action.  Makabe (Toshiro Mifune) and Yuki (Misa Uehara) are continually contrasted with Tahei (Minoru Chiaki) and Matashichi (Kamatari Fujiwara) because the motivation behind each character’s façade is different.  The former characters fight for nationhood and self-sacrifice while the latter characters are only interested in self-preservation and monetary gain.  The importance of identity continually appears within the narrative structure of the film, but The Hidden Fortress also visually represents this theme through costuming and camera technique.  Director Akira Kurosawa continually uses off-screen space (even though the film is shot in wide-screen) as a “hiding place,” that allows identity and spatial location to be masked until it becomes surprising and alarming.  


Akira Kurosawa; Hidden Fortress; film studies; Japanese film; cinema; cinema studies; auteur; giri; ninjo; cinematography

Full Text:



Burch, N. (1979). To the distant observer: form and meaning in the Japanese cinema. Univ of California Press.

Chatman, S. B. (1990). Coming to terms: The rhetoric of narrative in fiction and film. Cornell University Press.

Goodwin, J. (1994). Akira Kurosawa and intertextual cinema. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Howe, J. (2010). The Hidden Fortress. In J. Berra (Author), Directory of world cinema. (pp. 90-91). Bristol (UK): Intellect.

Prince, S. (1999). The warrior's camera: the cinema of Akira Kurosawa. Princeton University Press.

Richie, D. (1998). The Films of Akira Kurosawa. Univ of California Press.

Russell, C. (1995). Narrative Mortality: Death, Closure, and New Wave Cinemas. U of Minnesota Press.

West, D. (2006). Chasing Dragons: An Introduction to the Martial Arts Film. Harvard Common Press.

Yoshimoto, M. (2000). Kurosawa: film studies and Japanese cinema.


Copyright (c) 2015 Bryan Mead

License URL:


  1. Financial Inclusiveness : The role of mobile money and digital financial services. (Issue: Issue-March)
  2. Use of Mask in Girish Karnad’s Play 'Tughlaq' (Issue: Issue-March)
  3. King Oedipus: An Archetypal Hero (Issue: Issue- June)
  4. Inverted Gaze and Altered Erotic Spectacle (Issue: Issue - September)
  5. An Iranian Herzog: A Study of Dariush Mehrjui’s Screen Adaptation of Saul Bellow’s Herzog (Issue: Issue- December)
  6. The Superman/Kent hypothesis: On the epistemological limit between human and superhuman. (Issue: Issue-March)



Website last updated: August 19, 2017, at 11:30 PM


The contents of this journal are indexed within a globally distributed system of research databases. SOCRATES is data provider to several research databases. SOCRATES is under evaluation in Science Citation Index (SCI), ISI Web of Knowledge and Web of Science (Thomson Reuters). SOCRATES is under evaluation in SCOPUS. SOCRATES is under evolution for inclusion in "The Philosopher’s Index.

The base URL for SOCRATES Repository: OAI-PMH version is 2.0 is If you are an editor/admin/manager of a research database please feel free to include/harvest our content into your database. Please find more information about the Repository here.

Copyright © Publisher

No part of this website (excluding the on-line & print Versions of the journal that are licensed under the Creative common License ) may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the publisher of the website.No part of this website may be modified or changed or exploited in any way used for derivative works, or offered for sale, or used to construct any kind of database or mirrored at any other location without the express permission of the publisher of the website.Thank you for respecting the intellectual property rights. Acknowledgement: Image of Socrates


Views expressed in articles/research papers /manuscripts are the personal opinion of the author/ contributor and are in no sense official, neither the journal SOCRATES nor any member of the journal is responsible. In case any Research paper/Article is found previously published anywhere else, the author/ contributor will be entirely responsible.There would be no responsibility of any member of the journal.

Focus and Scope | Section Policies | Peer Review Process | Publication Frequency | Subscriptions | Memberships | Socrates Author Self-Archiving Policy | Online Submissions | Privacy Statement | Journal Sponsorship | Advertise with us | Contact us | Author Index | Title Index | Attribution | Competing Interest | Benefits of Publishing with Socrates | GOOGLE PLAY HELP |