22 January 2022
The Kazuo Ishiguruo scripted remake of Ikuru has just been released. Judging from the early reviews, it seems to be remarkably faithful to the original and seems to be really very good.
24 January 2022
Thanks for the heads-up, Ugetsu! The articles indeed make it sound pretty good. Hopefully it’ll get a wide enough release after its Sundance debut.
25 January 2022
I watched it, and was slightly surprised by the effusive early reviews. Bear in mind that many were from the British press, and Bill Nighy is a much loved figure in my home country. He is much older than Takashi Shimura was (73 versus 48) and that gives the film an elegaic “Goodbye Mr. Chips” quality, rather than the urgent, existential questioning of the original. The fact that it is set in 1953, complete with steam trains and vintage buses, adds to the sense of nostalgia.
Nighy gives an excellent performance, and Nobel prize winner Ishiguro serves up some good lines, very much in the “emotionally repressed Englishman” mode of “The Remains of the Day.” EG on confessing his fatal diagnosis for the first time: “It’s a bit of a bore, but it seems I have only six months to live…” It comes across as a character study, rather than the depiction of a universal experience.
There’s no gangster scene, and the novelist is is a purveyor of soft porn, rather than a nihilist offering a tempting world view. His hedonistic night out with “Williams” / Watanabe is about as erotic as a stale marmite sandwich. There is also a feel-good ending supplied by an important character not present in the original.
Perhaps I’m being too critical, but that’s the problem with remaking one of the world’s greatest movies. Frankly, I think they should have deviated more from the original, as AK did with his Shakespeare adaptions. Set in a C21st context with C21st temptations and C21st choices, it might have retained more of the emotional power.
26 January 2022
Thanks for the information, PeterT! Early reviews often tend to be rosy, it’s good to have your more level-headed thoughts.
It looks like Sony has picked up the film.
28 January 2022
They need to turn it into a Western. Kurosawa remakes only work as Westerns…. lol.
They need to turn it into a Western.
It is the turn of the 20th century. The frontier has been tamed, the wild west a thing of the past. A drunken good-for-nothing now-a-thing-of-the-past cowboy contracts a bad cough and on a whim decides to spend the rest of his short life building a park for the town’s children. The townspeople both pity and make fun of him. The preacher actively sabotages his work. But with the encouragement of a visiting travel memoirist and a friendly barmaid-turned-rancher, the cowboy manages to pull himself together and find a hint of meaning in his miserable life.
To be honest… I might actually watch that.
Yup, that would work. But how about a contemporary London version, starring eg. Jude Law? Instead of a kids’ park, our hero would create a new youth / sports club in a rough part of town, after a group of mothers protest that their young sons are getting sucked into gangs. The decadent novelist would be a stand-up comedian. He would take “Watanabe” to the Groucho Club in Soho, then on to a gay night club where they snort coke and drink multiple tequila slammers. They end up in a karaoke joint, where our man ruins the mood by singing Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.
Soaring house prices mean Watanabe’s son and daughter-in-law can never afford a place of their own, so they are unhappy with his presence. The young lady who quits the boredom of city hall wants to train as a nurse, but has to pay off her student loans by working as a lap-dancer. The gangster could be a dodgy Russian property developer.
Ishiguro would not be the right man for this one. The director could be Guy Richie.
Guy Ritchie’s Ikiru would definitely be… something. 🙂
But let’s face it, the most likely new big budget remake would be a superhero film, because everything these days seems to be. This actually begs the question: where IS our Extended Kurosawa Universe? Why hasn’t Toho put that together yet? If I understand how superhero stories work (which I may well not), in EKU, all of Kurosawa’s films would be considered to have taken place in the same universe and the heroes and villains would be mixed into new storylines, which sort of follow old storylines, but then do not.
In EKU, Watanabe would likely be trying to build his playground in the middle of the Seven Samurai village.
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