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Star Wars Almost Adapted Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress Three Times

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Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa has been a major source of inspiration for the Star Wars franchise since its very beginning. Director George Lucas was a great admirer of Kurosawa and, in many regards, 1977’s original Star Wars — now subtitled A New Hope — was a sci-fi adaptation of Kurosawa’s film, The Hidden Fortress. The Japanese director’s influence can be felt throughout the Star Wars saga, with his samurai heroes informing the costumes and combat of Lucas’ Jedi Knights.

While The Hidden Fortress may have had the most direct influence on Lucas’ original Star Wars, Kurosawa’s best-known work is probably Seven Samurai. The film sees its titular samurai gather to defend a village from bandits, teaching the villagers how to fight back against the aggressors. It was famously remade in Hollywood as the Western The Magnificent Seven and has been parodied in films such as A Bug’s Life and Three Amigos. The film has twice been translated into episodes of Star Wars television series and, at one point, could have become a Star Wars film.

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Seven Samurai in the Star Wars Galaxy

Obi-Wan vs. Maul on Star Wars Rebels

Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai was first reimagined for the Star Wars universe in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Season 2 episode “Bounty Hunters” is dedicated to Kurosawa and modeled after the film. The seven heroes of this episode consist of four bounty hunters — Sugi, Embo, Seripas and Rumi Paramita — alongside the Jedi Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano. Landing on the planet Felucia, the Jedi encounter the bounty hunters and learn they have been hired by a local farming village to protect them against pirates. After learning the pirates are led by Hondo Ohnaka, the Jedi agree to team up with the bounty hunters and train the villagers to fight back against Hondo’s forces.

Star Wars‘ second take on Seven Samurai came in the first season of The Mandalorian on Disney+. The series’ fourth episode, “Sanctuary,” again features a farming village under attack from raiders. This time, though, instead of seven central heroes there are only two — Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin and former Rebel shocktrooper Cara Dune. The villagers appeal to Djarin, asking for his help in fending off the raiders. He agrees and recruits Dune to assist him. When they learn that the raiders are making use of an Imperial AT-ST walker, they not only train the villagers to fight but help them lay a trap for the AT-ST.

Traces of Seven Samurai‘s influence can be found in other moments from Star Wars. Notably, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s final duel with Darth Maul on Star Wars Rebels takes inspiration from Kyuzo’s single-strike duel in the field in Kurosawa’s film. However, an entire Star Wars film based on Seven Samurai may have come about had Lucasfilm not turned down a pitch from Zack Snyder.

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Rebel Moon: Zack Snyder’s Kurosawa-Inspired Star Wars Film

An official look at the character Anthony Hopkins will be voicing in Rebel Moon

Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon is currently in the works at Netflix as an original sci-fi film. However, Snyder had originally intended Rebel Moon to be part of the Star Wars franchise, having pitched it to Lucasfilm prior to the company’s acquisition by Disney. Snyder’s initial pitch was reportedly considered too dark for the quintessentially hopeful Star Wars franchise, and no further discussions took place once Disney had acquired Lucasfilm. While the project is now being retooled as an original property, Snyder has been vocal about the film’s two greatest sources of inspiration — Star Wars and Akira Kurosawa.

Much like The Clone Wars‘ “Bounty Hunters” and The Mandalorian‘s “Sanctuary,” Rebel Moon starts out in a farming community on a particular planet. As in Seven Samurai, the locals come under attack, this time from the military forces of a galactic tyrant. The imposing army wants to use the village’s farms for their food reserves, threatening the lives of the villagers in the process. The villagers choose to fight back, seeking out warriors from nearby worlds to aid them.

Rebel Moon is set to be yet another reinterpretation of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai against the backdrop of a space opera. Given Kurosawa’s influence on George Lucas in his early filmmaking, it is not surprising Snyder originally pitched the project to Lucasfilm as an entry in the Star Wars franchise. However, had Rebel Moon ever come to fruition under the Star Wars banner, it would have ultimately proved to be one of many retellings of Kurosawa’s most famous story in the galaxy far, far away.

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