All the Emperor’s Men: Kurosawa’s Pearl Harbor looks at what went wrong with Kurosawa’s involvement in Tora! Tora! Tora!
After 1965’s Red Beard, Akira Kurosawa’s career took a rather strange turn as he found himself working on a Hollywood film, and for the first time in his career, operating outside of the Japanese studio system. His first attempt with Runaway Train quietly disintegrated into nothing, but the second Hollywood funded project that he signed for would have major consequences for his career. Unfortunately, not in a good way.
For about two years between 1966 and 1968, Kurosawa worked on the Hollywood World War II spectacle Tora! Tora! Tora! as the person responsible for the Japanese half of the film. What started as a gigantic undertaking for an energetic Kurosawa and his fledgling production company ended in December 1968 after much hardship and only three weeks of shooting, with the Hollywood producers effectively firing the director and suggesting that he was mentally unstable. How things managed to come to this has been the topic of much speculation, but fairly few actual facts have been available.
Hiroshi Tasogawa‘s new book All the Emperor’s Men: Kurosawa’s Pearl Harbor sets out to change this. Tasogawa worked as a translator, interpreter and researcher for Kurosawa during the time the director worked on Tora! Tora! Tora!, and can therefore offer an insider’s view into what really happened. Equally importantly, the author, who has also worked as a journalist, reporter and academic, has unearthed a cache of American documents dealing with the production and Kurosawa’s role in it, giving him another vantage point into the course of events.
All the Emperor’s Men will be published by Kodansha International in early July 2011 in Europe, and possibly about a month later in North America. Tasogawa’s Japanese book on the subject, 黒澤明vs.ハリウッド― (Kurosawa Akira vs. Hollywood, 2006) has been very well received in Japan, winning four major awards. It is therefore with high expectations and much excitement that I am looking forward to his new book.
For more information, I very much recommend Kodansha Europe’s product page for the forthcoming book, which includes a lengthy introduction to the book by the author himself.
As mentioned earlier, All the Emperor’s Men: Kurosawa’s Pearl Harbor should be out in Europe in early July, and sometime Augustish in North America. For more information about books on Akira Kurosawa, check out Akira Kurosawa bibliography.