There is, really, just one absence that slightly dampens the stellar fall festivals. This April it was announced that Kiyoshi Kurosawa would remake his great 1998 feature Serpent’s Path in Paris, with Damien Bonnard (Asteroid City, Staying Vertical) in a leading role, and excitement for which I think explains itself. Despite the director’s typically fast production time, it became evident we’d have to wait until 2024––now confirmed by Screen Daily in a story offering our first (and above) look at the film.
Contained therein is revelation that this new Serpent’s Path, despite featuring Bonnard, is instead carried by a female protagonist––played by Ko Shibasaki, soon to be heard in Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron––though no word on whether this much changes the basic plot structure. (Original writer Hiroshi Takahashi is credited with script.)
Any waiting and changes notwithstanding, there’s solid precedent for what the film might offer. Even by Kurosawa’s standards is Serpent’s Path a cold-blooded and blood-chilling work, its story of revenge for a murdered child shaped by typically perfect production design, sustained atmosphere, ornate plotting. (Jonathan Rosenbaum was correct in saying “I often couldn’t figure out who was doing what to whom, but I didn’t much care.”) Where its sister film Eyes of the Spider––a production overlapping in cast, crew, and narrative jibe––offers a lighter vision of vengeance, this revisit suggests classic Kurosawa.
Not for nothing that in a recent, Cure-related interview with Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Kurosawa pondered returning to his earlier mode of horror filmmaking:
“I sometimes wonder if I could go back to that era now. Even if I might not be able to, I have the will to try to go back, to do only what I truly want to do, to not think about anything. It might end up the worst thing ever. But that’s okay if that’s the case. Because 25 years from now, putting aside whether I’m alive or not, they might say, ‘What a weird movie this is.’ That’s why I’d like to do that kind of moviemaking again now.”
For more Kurosawa, I’ll shamelessly recommend my 2021 interview with the master––wherein we discussed Wife, plotting, cinephilia, and Clint Eastwood––while you can find a trailer for the original Serpent’s Path below.