Few foreign directors have had as big of an influence on American cinema as Akira Kurosawa. Some people — hopefully not those reading this article — won’t recognize the name, but his works helped create The Man with No Name, for one thing, and Seven Samurai alone could be argued as one of the five most important movies in film history. There’s been a few remakes here and there; if you don’t count A Fistful of Dollars, then The Magnificent Seven probably takes the crown as the most popular.
Variety (via ThePlaylist) reports that Splendent Media has acquired the rights to 69 of his works, which includes 19 unproduced screenplays credited to his name, in addition to 24 scripts that he worked on but did not direct. Some films are out of their hands — remakes rights for Seven Samurai, High and Low, Ikiru, and Drunken Angel belong to other companies. That much being said, the number of his (directed) films that they have access to is significant at 26, including Rashomon, Ran, Yojimbo, Stray Dog, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Dreams, and Kagemusha; a full list can be found here. They’ll be acting as a sales agent on these properties, but the possibility of them producing a few is open.
Splendent principal Sakiko Yamada was quoted as saying the following on the deal:
“We are thrilled and deeply honored to have been entrusted to represent this spectacular treasure trove of films and screenplays, and to help contemporary filmmakers introduce a new generation of moviegoers to these unforgettable stories.”
The initial, knee-jerk reaction of many will be “how dare they,” or something like that, but I don’t think this is something to get all that incensed about. To fully grasp this deal, a few things about Kurosawa‘s output and his influence need to be known. For one, many of his most famous works are adaptions whose source material ranges from Shakespeare to Dashiell Hammett; masterpieces though they may be, they weren’t stories he invented out of thin air.
On top of that — and alluded to above — he’s been remade plenty of times already. Rashomon? Already remade, with Paul Newman and William Shatner, no less. The same goes for many of his classics — I truly understand and agree with the argument that people should discover these movies in their original form, but don’t go acting like he’s never had this treatment before. Even if the idea really bothers you, it’s at least neat that some of his efforts which never made it to production will get to be seen, and as long as they preserve what he did in the first place, it’s an idea I can support.
How do you feel about all of these Kurosawa movies getting remade? Would you want to see the unproduced screenplays get shot by someone else?
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