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English Remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru Planned


Just as the new Ikiru musical has premiered in Tokyo, news are coming in that English producer Stephen Woolley is developing a new adaptation of Kurosawa’s film for the big screen.

The UK based Woolley mentions these plans in a new book about the influential Scala Cinema in London, as well as in an associated Guardian piece where he writes: “In my career as a film producer, I still get inspiration from the Scala‚Äôs programming. For instance, in the first all-nighter of June 1979, we showed Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952). Nearly 40 years on from that Scala screening, I’m reading a screenplay for a version I commissioned that will be set in 1950s London, and which I hope to shoot next year.”

So, could we be looking at a 2019-2020 Ikiru, although no doubt with a different title? Who would you have play the lead?

Woolley’s previous production credits include The Crying Game (1992), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Little Voice (1998), The End of the Affair (1999), and more recently Carol (2015) and Colette (2018).




Woolley has a great track record, so its pretty good news. But I find setting it in 1950’s London to be an odd decision – I would have assumed that a contemporary version would make more sense.

My first thought as a lead is Stephen Rea (who was in Wooleys The Crying Game). Rea has a long history of playing put upon middle aged failures very well. But I guess he’s not a big enough name. Gabriel Byrne is another good actor who seems to have ‘matured’ into playing losers very well (kind of odd as he started out as a conventional hunk). I could see him being very good in the role.

I assume though that for such a relatively uncommercial film, they’d want a bigger star. Once upon a time Kevin Spacey would be nailed on for that role, but I guess thats not likely now….

Its probably too obvious, but Bryan Cranston would do an excellent job. And he even starred in Godzilla, just like Shimura Takeshi….


Vili Maunula

I could definitely see Rea and possibly Byrne in the lead role. Personally, I consider Tom Hanks as kind of the Hollywood version of Takashi Shimura, so if we need a major box office magnet, I would cast Tom, regardless of accent. I could also see Geoffrey Rush in the role.

In a way, it’s interesting that they are planning to set the film in practically the same time frame as the original, just in a different country. And of course, as a period film, rather than the original, which was contemporary at the time of making.

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