Three New Screenplays by Akira Kurosawa Discovered in Japan

     October 29, 2010

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Three previously undiscovered screenplays by master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa have been uncovered in Japan.  According to Sankei Sports (via The Playlist), Tokyo University Media Professor, Yasuki Hamano found the screenplays while researching for his upcoming book series Akira Kurosawa Archives in which the scripts will be collected.  Two of the scripts–Kanokemaru no Hitobito (The People of Kanokemaru) and Ashita o Tsukuru Hitobito (The People Who Make Tomorrow)—are for feature films while the third–Yoki na Kojo (The Cheerful Factory)—was for a radio drama.  Hit the jump for details on these projects.

For those who don’t know, Akira Kurosawa is one of the most legendary and influential filmmakers of all time.  His body of work features numerous classics including Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Rashomon, and Ran.  Kurosawa passed away in 1998 at the age of 88.

akira_kurosawa_01The People of Kanokemaru centers on “sailors on an old transport ship who overcome stormy weather” and was set to star frequent Kurosawa collaborator Toshiro Mifune.  However, the project was stopped before the story was completed.

Here’s a synopsis for The People Who Make Tomorrow (also called Those Who Make Tomorrow) via IMDb:

Two sisters, one a dancer and the other a script supervisor at a big movie studio, become embroiled in union activities when a strike is called in sympathy with striking railroad workers, one of whom boards with the sisters and their parents. The girls’ father argues with them about their strike, but finds his views changing when he himself loses his job.

Unfortunately, not much is known about The Cheerful Factory.  All three of these works were from early in Kurosawa’s career.

It’s not unusual for a filmmaker to leave scripts behind when they die.  There’s still unproduced work from Stanley Kubrick, John Hughes, and Alfred Hitchock.  Sometime these get produced as was the case when Steven Spielberg adapted Kubrick’s A.I. or when Tom Tykwer adapted Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Heaven and Danis Tanović adapted the sequel, Hell.

There will never be “new” Kurosawa, but it’s always interesting to explore “What If?”  It’s also fascinating when another director picks up the work of a legend and you the amalgamation of style.  The result isn’t always a success, but it almost always worth watching.  I have trouble believing that modern auteurs will simply let these screenplays rest.

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