Sunday, January 4, 2009

Shun Oguri takes on the story behind "Rashomon" in "Tajomaru"

by Chris MaGee

This is a bit of a synchronistic news story. I recently received a very nice Christmas present from a very good friend: a book of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927). The best part is that it included the two stories, "In a Grove" and "Rashomon" that Akira Kurosawa used as the basis for his groundbreaking 1950 film "Rashomon". A quick search of Akutagawa on IMDB revealed that Kurosawa wasn't the only director to adapt the author's story of involving accounts of the rape of a noblewoman and the murder of her husband to the big screen. Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network) adapted "In a Grove" to television in 1960, Martin Ritt (The Great White Hope, Norma Rae) took both Akutagawa stories as the basis of his 1964 western "The Outrage" and Japanese voice actor/ director/ producer brought his own updated version of the story, 1991's "Iron Maze", to the screen in 1991.

Now word has come that Shun Oguri, best known for his lead role in Takashi Miike's "Crows Zero", will be starring yet another take on Akutagawa's "In a Grove", but according to Oguri this time it will be more of a "romantic fantasy film than a historical drama". Titled "Tajomaru" the film currently being shot by director Hiroyuki Nakano in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima will see Tajomaru, the murderous bandit portrayed famously by Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa's "Rashomon", become the romantic lead(!) So does that mean Oguri will just scare away the husband (Kenichi Hagiwara) and sweep his young bride (Yuki Shibamoto) off her feet... and then we'll get multiple viewpoints of how much in love they are? It somehow just doesn't make sense. Well, seeing that it's Hiroyuki Nakano, the man who recently remade "The Seven Samurai for pachinko machines and it starts to make a little more sense.

"Tajomaru" is set to hit Japanese theatres in the fall, but to tied you over check out a little swordplay and hair extensions in the behind-the-scenes clip below. Thanks to Tokyograph for this story.

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