What Samurai Movie Is Star Wars Based On?

Have you ever wondered what inspired George Lucas to create the epic space opera, Star Wars? It turns out that the iconic film series draws heavily from a genre of Japanese cinema known as samurai movies. In this article, we will explore the connection between Star Wars and one particular samurai movie that served as a major influence on the franchise.

The Influence of Samurai Movies on Star Wars

George Lucas has been open about his love for Japanese cinema and its impact on his work. In particular, he has cited the influence of Akira Kurosawa’s films, which often featured samurai warriors as protagonists. Lucas drew inspiration from the themes of honor, loyalty, and sacrifice that were central to these movies.

One of the main ways in which Star Wars reflects this influence is through its depiction of Jedi knights. Like samurai warriors, Jedi are skilled fighters who adhere to a strict code of conduct and serve as protectors of their society. Both groups also have an emphasis on meditation and self-control as essential practices for mastering their craft.

The Hidden Fortress: The Inspiration for Star Wars

While many samurai movies have elements that can be seen in Star Wars, one stands out as a particularly direct influence: The Hidden Fortress. Directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1958, this film tells the story of two bumbling peasants who get caught up in a conflict between rival clans during Japan’s feudal era.

The Hidden Fortress shares several key similarities with Star Wars. For one thing, both films begin with a sweeping shot of space that sets the stage for an epic adventure. In addition, both feature a pair of unlikely heroes who team up with a princess to defeat an evil empire.

Perhaps most importantly, The Hidden Fortress helped shape some fundamental aspects of Star Wars’ storytelling style. For example, Kurosawa used wipes (a technique where one scene transitions into another by a horizontal or vertical line moving across the screen) to move between scenes, and this technique can be seen in Star Wars as well.

Additionally, The Hidden Fortress features a subplot with two bickering peasants that provides comic relief amidst the more serious themes of the film. This type of humor is also present in Star Wars, particularly in the banter between C-3PO and R2-D2.


In conclusion, while Star Wars draws from many different sources of inspiration, samurai movies – and in particular The Hidden Fortress – played a major role in shaping the franchise’s themes, characters, and storytelling techniques. By looking to Japanese cinema for inspiration, George Lucas created a world that feels both familiar and entirely unique.