This is a brief but possibly portentous news piece from Variety's website yesterday, outlining a business deal that sees something called Splendant Media (no, I've never heard of them, either) obtaining the rights to 69 scripts from Akira Kurosawa, a man who will always be in the running for the title of "best director to ever live," and the remake potential thereof. The rights include a number of films that Kurosawa directed, a bunch of scripts that he wrote but didn't direct, and, intriguingly, 19 films that he wrote but which were never produced.
Here's the list of films in the bunch that Kurosawa actually directed, which are obviously going to be the most well-known of the bunch:
- Sanshiro Sugata - 1943
- The Most Beautiful - 1944
- Sanshiro Sugata Part 2 - 1945
- The Men who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail - 1945
- No regrets For Our Youth - 1946
- One Wonderful Sunday - 1947
- The Quiet Duel - 1949
- Stray Dog - 1949
- Scandal - 1950
- Rashomon - 1950
- Idiot - 1951
- Record of a Living Being - 1955
- Throne of Blood - 1957
- The Lower Depths - 1957
- The Hidden Fortress - 1958
- The Bad Sleep Well - 1960
- Yojimbo - 1961
- Sanjuro - 1962
- Red Beard - 1966
- Dodes’Ka- Den - 1970
- Dersu Uzala - 1975
- Kagemusha - 1982
- Ran - 1985
- Dreams - 1990
- Rhapsody in August - 1991
- Madadayo - 1993
You'll note that a few of Kurosawa's best films are not in the group, as they're already in the process of being remade elsewhere, including Seven Samurai, High And Low, Drunken Angel, and Ikiru. The rest of the films on the list consist of early-career post-war ephemera, films from the 15 years or so that the man could not make anything other than a masterpiece, and his late-career color films that I've always found a wee bit ponderous (but then, I haven't watched many of them since college).
It's difficult to imagine many of these films winding up with remakes; the remake rights are specifically for territories outside Japan, and a number of these films are so specifically Japanese (I'm thinking primarily of Kagemusha and Ran, although Rhapsody In August is also pretty Japan-centric) that it'd be hard to transpose their storylines to other settings. That said, the remake potential of some of these films does entice me; I'd love to see The Bad Sleep Well remade on modern-day Wall Street, for instance, and Rashomon and Yojimbo have both been remade with varying degrees of success.
The transfer of the rights to Splendent doesn't mean much out of hand; it only means that the rights to these films are perhaps more easily obtained by Hollywood producers, since Splendent is based in Los Angeles and they'll be able to negotiate more easily with a local company. Splendent also says that they'll consider producing some of the remakes themselves, but...well, we'll see how that goes.
I like to think I'm more level-headed about remakes than many, even going so far as to like some remakes more than their original films (Let Me In being a recent example), but still...we're talking Kurosawa here. Some things are better off just being left alone.
Which Kurosawa film would you like to see remade, if one had to be done?