LA company acquires Kurosawa film rights


Splendent Media, a recently formed production company based out of Los Angeles, has acquired the rights to most of acclaimed Japanese writer/director Akira Kurosawa’s catalog. In short, there may be a lot of Kurosawa remakes on the horizon, and there isn’t much you can do about it. Beloved classics such as Red Beard, Kagemusha, Hidden Fortress, and Ikiru may be called upon to reprise their roles as, well, themselves.  Call me pessimistic, but a lot of this reeks to high heaven. The founder and executive behind Splendent Media is Japanese, so that’s a good start, right? Well, her experience is in real estate, so that’s not good. But maybe she wants to make sure the remakes are done right. Well, that’s impossible. What gets to me the most is the following, verbatim from the bio section of Ms. Yamada. 

“As a Founding Board Member of the International Academy of Gastronomy, U.S. West Chapter, Yamada promotes the safeguarding and development of regional and national cultures and their culinary heritage.”

If Ms. Yamada knew as much about film as she does about real estate (and food, presumably), she would know that the best thing to do, if given the rights to a great director’s works, is to place them high on a shelf so no one can reach them (just ask the Weinsteins, they have been doing that for decades). Many of the elements that made Akira Kurosawa such an amazing director were products of the time and place that he lived in. Many of his greatest films were shot in black and white, many closely followed a period of intense change in post-war Japan, and many were deliberately slow and methodical, an approach rarely seen in contemporary cinema in the United States. Sure, the stories are great, but the real strength behind the films was the vision of Kurosawa and his collaborators (frequently actor Toshiro Mifune and DP Asakazu Nakai), who made intense dramas and tragedies that reflected their time and place in Japanese society. Bringing in contemporary filmmakers to shoot color video in America cannot possibly replicate the emotions and styles of the departed Master, and they shouldn’t try. 

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