Friday, October 29, 2010

Three unknown Akira Kurosawa screenplays uncovered in archives

by Chris MaGee

Here's a news story that seems like it was perfectly timed for this year's centenary celebrations of the birth of master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. It was announced on Thursday that three unproduced scripts by Akira Kurosawa written between the late 40's to the early 1950's have been uncovered.

The first script for a film titled "Kanokemaru no Hitobito" was discovered in the archives of the Shinobu Hashimoto Memorial Hall in Ichikawa, Hyogo Prefecture. Kurosawa enthusiasts will recognize Hashimoto's name as he worked as a screenwriter on a number of Kurosawa's most well known films such as "Rashomon", "Ikiru" and "Throne of Blood" as well as penning scripts for such Japanese classics as Masaki Kobayashi's "Harakiri" and Kihachi Okamoto's "Sword of Doom". The screenplay for "Kanokemaru no Hitobito" was written by Hashimoto and based on a story idea by Kurosawa about the crew of a transport ship caught up in massive storm at sea. Apparently Kurosawa had intended to produce the film with actor Toshiro Mifune in 1951, but production was halted before the film could be completed.

The second screenplay is for a film titled "Asu wo Tsukuru Hitobito", a film that was to have been a collaborative effort between a number of directors at Toho. Because the screenplay had been worked on by a number of these other filmmakers Kurosawa had not wanted his name to appear as an author.

The last screenplay isn't actually a screenplay at all. In the early 40's when Kurosawa was still an assistant director at P.C.L. (the studio that would one day be known as Toho) he was asked to write a radio play titled "Youki na Koujou". It would go on to be produced and broadcast by NHK in the summer of 1942 after which the original script was stored away in the archives of the Tsubochi Memorial Theatre Museum at Waseda University.

Obviously there will be a lot of interest in these heretofore unknown Kurosawa screenplays. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if Toho and the Kurosawa estate somehow fast-tracked these into production, especially seeing how the estate of Kurosawa has been plagued in the past few years by gross financial mismanagement.

Thanks to Tokyograph for this exciting piece of news.

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