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Remaking Kurosawa? People Have Been Doing It For Years

Akira Kurosawa's Centennial last spring is still causing ripples. Splendent Media extends the celebration in a potentially controversial way. They have the rights to an enormous part of the Kurosawa catalogue should anyone want to purchase them for a remake. Kneejerk reaction is NOOOOooooooooo. But then you realize that Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress, and The Seven Samurai (and to a lesser extent many of his other films) have already been ripped off hundreds of times for movies and television. Hell, I've even seen an Off Broadway musical based on Rashomon!

So why would a straight up remake be any different? 

Here are the 26 Kurosawa directed pics (of the 32 he made) that they're offering rights to:

Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
The Most Beautiful (1944)
Sanshiro Sugata Part2 (1945)
The Men who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)
No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)
One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
The Quiet Duel (1949)
Stray Dog (1949)
Scandal (1950)
Rashomon (1950) -- Honorary Oscar Foreign Film
Idiot (1951)
Record of a Living Being (1955)
Throne of Blood (1957)
The Lower Depths (1957)
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Yojimbo (1961)
Sanjuro (1962)
Red Beard (1965)
Dodes’Ka- Den (1970) -- Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Nominee
Dersu Uzala (1975) -- Oscar Winner, Foreign Film
Kagemusha (1980)  -- Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Nominee
Ran (1985)  -- Best Director Oscar Nomination
Dreams (1990)  
Rhapsody in August (1991)
Madadayo (1993)

QUESTION: Wouldn't it be strange to buy the rights to remake Ran or Throne of Blood when you can get their source material (King Lear and Macbeth) for free?

What's your favorite Kurosawa? Sometimes I wish I'd seen them all -- since I've yet to be disappointed -- but it's so daunting given how prolific he was.

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Reader Comments (5)

Dersu Uzala actually won the Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1976.
Its so weird the Kurosawa's official Oscar came from Soviet Union film (its Japan-Soviet co-production). Dersu Uzala even bet a Japanese film for its Oscar win.

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictor S

The Seven Samurai is the one I've seen the most, including the long uncut version. I saw about 6 of the B&W 60s ones at a retrospective- I liked the one about the doctor - is that Redbeard? I also like the late ones, Kagemusha and Ran. I'm happy that there's so much more to see - it makes me feel I won't run out of good movies in my lifetime.

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I've been trying to tell people this for years to no avail. Even with the 30 odd remakes of Yojimbo that just don't call themselves remakes, many of Kurosawa's films have been spun into any number of countless tales. Let alone the direct remakes like Fistful of Dollars and Magnificent Seven. Still you have Hidden Fortress' impact on Star Wars just for a little outside the box thinking.

Out of all of Kurosawa's films (that are readily available), the only ones I haven't seen are The Idiot, No Regrets For Our Youth, and The Most Beautiful. So I will say, if you ever have the time, I would highly recommend checking them all out. Especially for the diamonds hidden along the way - movies like The Lower Depths, High and Low, The Bad Sleep Well, and Record of a Living Being (aka I Live in Fear) which don't get nearly as much mainstream play as Ran, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, Seven Samurai, and Ikiru as they might ought to. The only Kurosawa film that I've seen be only loved by full Kurosawa enthusiasts is Red Beard. It's easily his most divisive film, but it's one of my favorites.

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterUnivarn

High and Low

I recently bought the first Eclipse box set (not his first films one, the other one) and look forward to it.

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

My favorite Kurosawa by far is Seven Samurai. In fact, it's my favorite film, period. I also love High and Low, Iriku, Red Beard and Stray Dog. A few weeks ago, I found The Idiot at a Barnes & Nobel sale, purchased it and have been waiting for the right moment to view it. I never get tired of Kurosawa. And as many times as I've seen Seven Samurai, I can never turn it off. The Criterion edition, with the newly translated subtitles, is particular fine.

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRC
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