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Seven Samurai remake gets a director, Hateful Eight gets a studio, Toshiro Mifune gets a documentary

A couple of Akira Kurosawa related news stories have been circulating the interwebs these past few days.

First of all, remember that Seven Samurai remake that the The Weinstein Company is working on? Yeah, me neither really, as it’s been on and off, but mainly off, the news for almost ten years now. But apparently it’s on again, as the news come via The Tracking Board that Rob Letterman of Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens and Gulliver’s Travels fame has been attached to direct the feature. Letterman therefore replaces Scott Mann at the helm, who was previously reported as the director.

The news doesn’t specify whether Letterman will be working from the previous drafts written by Scott Marshall Smith and John Fusco. There is also some speculation whether the remake may now actually be an animated feature rather than a live action film, considering Letterman’s pedigree with animated films.

Speaking of the Weinsteins, Variety reports that Quentin Tarantino‘s next film, the possibly-Kurosawa-inspired (but perhaps not) western The Hateful Eight will also be produced and distributed by The Weinstein Company. This, of course, is probably not much of a surprise considering that Tarantino has worked with the Weinsteins throughout his career. Interestingly, the report also notes that Tarantino will be shooting the feature on nothing less than 65mm film. The story, apparently, is set in Wyoming and focuses on people trapped after a snow storm forces a stagecoach off its route. Shooting starts in January.

Finally, and again via Variety, comes the news that the Japanese-American director Steven Okazaki is working on a high profile documentary film on Toshiro Mifune. Titled Mifune: Last Samurai, the film will feature rare archive footage and new interviews, and will concentrate primarily on Mifune’s samurai films. Principal photography will start this September, which probably means a release next year.





I rather hope that The Hateful Eight, which I thought Tarantino had abandoned because the script was leaked (maybe that was just a temporary reaction), has a Kurosawa connection. I’d love to see something of his that’s more directly related to Kurosawa’s oeuvre than what he’s made so far. Though I haven’t seen it, I consider Kill Bill more directly connected to Hong Kong martial arts/kung fu/wuxia movies than to anything Kurosawa made.

But then again I seem to be the biggest Tarantino fan on this forum, which is strange because I see flaws in what he does and don’t like all his movies equally. What I like about Tarantino, and how I connect him to Kurosawa, is that he has his own distinctive, muscular, dynamic style that he refuses to apologize for and isn’t, even these days, afraid to make action movies using physical effects rather than CGI to much better (imo) effect than CGI could ever hope to achieve.

As for the news of a documentary about Mifune’s samurai films, I say bring it on!


Vili Maunula

Tarantino actually did a live reading of the script with Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and others. I may have forgotten to mention that. I think that it went fairly well, which may be one reason why Tarantino is working on the story again.

To be honest, I’m a little disappointed that Steven Ozaki has decided to concentrate on Mifune’s samurai films, as it seems a little cliché and there certainly is more to the man than just the samurai fare. Then again, I suppose I shouldn’t criticise as back in the 90s I made a website (or more like a web page, I suppose) titled “Toshiro Mifune: The Last Samurai”, so there is that. I also had a mini site up called (I think) “Akira Kurosawa: The Emperor” which was sort of a precursor to this website.

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