• Congratulations to yesterday’s winner, Franciscus Rebro! Franciscus wrote this response to our question about favorite behind-the-scenes facts from the making of Kurosawa films:

    My favorite behind-the-scenes anecdote about Kurosawa’s film involves the director’s relationship with the peerless Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, who scored several Kurosawa films and hundreds of movies by less famous composers. While working on the score for Ran, Akira and Toru couldn’t agree over the music to use during the first incredible battle scene. Takemitsu wanted the music in this scene to be composed entirely from battle sound effects, like the cries of men and horses, explosions and gunshots, and other sounds not playable on traditional instruments. On the other hand, Kurosawa at the time was deeply inspired by the orchestral works of Mahler, and in the end the director would not budge on his position to use a heavy, emotionally moving string score in this battle. At the climax of the piece, all musical sounds suddenly cut out to silence, and a single fatal bullet is fired, killing one of Lord Hidetora’s sons in one of the most impacting moments of the film and arguably Kurosawa’s entire oeuvre.
    As effective as the score ended up being, Takemitsu always lamented not being given full artistic control over that scene, and it would be fascinating to hear his original plan for it, which very likely would have sounded pretty radical, perhaps along the lines of his early experimental tape piece Sky, Horse and Death. Nevertheless, it’s a credit to Kurosawa that he was so unyielding in his artistic vision, and that the results are exquisite.

    March is Akira Kurosawa month at Criterion. On the twenty-third, the great Japanese filmmaker would have been one hundred years old. For this centennial celebration, we will be posting trivia questions and other contests all month, and giving away a different prize every weekday.

    Today’s prompt:

    What’s your favorite remake of a Kurosawa film?

    Please respond by commenting below, and we’ll choose a winner on Monday. You must leave a valid e-mail address to be eligible for the prize (an Ikiru DVD).

128 comments

  • By Joe
    March 13, 2010
    07:35 PM

    "Bug's Life" !
    Reply
  • By Bertww65
    March 13, 2010
    10:33 PM

    I am going to hold out until the Scorsese/ Mike Nichol's remake of High & Low comes out. When you have two masters under the influence of a legend like Kurosawa, magic is bound to happen.
    Reply
  • By Anthony
    March 13, 2010
    10:34 PM

    Well to be honest Hidden Fortress!! Obviously because it spawned Star Wars and all that jazz but more importantly was the domino effect. The foundation for future filmmakers, actors and artists that was brought about from the inspiration of Kurosawa's work on a young George Lucas. Where would the world be if there was no George Lucas or Star Wars? Lets face it Star Wars made Mr. Lucas. So if there was no Hidden Fortress there would be no Star Wars. and if there was no Star Wars what effect would that have on a generation that was inspired to work in filmmaking, animation, visual effects and acting, As much as I love Kurosawa lots of people would never have watched his movies or learned of him if Star Wars was not made. It's always horrible how some people still don't want to watch movies with subtitles. May the force be with you! (and may the force bring me lkiru because its my fav movie)
    Reply
  • By Dan Thompson
    March 13, 2010
    11:22 PM

    Although it boasts an excellent cast, cinematographer, and director, The Outrage (1964) is in the long run a pretty bad remake of Rashomon. But often you can learn quite a lot by comparing a pale remake with the original. Directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Edward G. Robinson, Howard Da Silva, and a wonderfully over-the-top William Shatner and set in a Twilight Zone inspired "Old West town" and filmed with the stiff "live look" of a Playhouse 90 TV drama. The end result seems claustrophobic and pushed. After watching The Outrage I wanted to get back to Rashomon as fast as possible. Armed with the missteps of the remake I could better see Kurosawa's genius. His camera is so graceful and the pacing is so smooth in comparison with the plodding, theatrical feel of the 1964 version.
    Reply
  • By Gabriela P
    March 14, 2010
    12:14 AM

    I usually hate about 98% of all movie and music remakes but surprisingly I am not filled to the brim with anger at the thought of a Kurosawa remake. Instead I ask, "Can you remake a Kurosawa movie?" Physically yes you can but can you really? My little brother, little sister, and (maybe my older brother) I loved a A Bug's Life; I didn't know it was loosely based on the Seven Samurai.
    Reply
  • By Ryan
    March 14, 2010
    12:29 AM

    Saving Private Ryan Not a remake but Steven Spielberg pays tribute to Kurosawa's Ran when the soldier picks up his severed arm in the Normandy Beach scene.
    Reply
  • By The Baker
    March 14, 2010
    09:43 AM

    I'm a really big fan of Star Wars, one of my favorite movies. But to me it's more a question of a huge inspiration from the storyline of Hidden Fortress than a clear remake. Then even if Star Wars would be the one I like to watch the most, I'd say the closest to a complete remake is A Fistful of Dollars. The Leone film takes not only the events Yojimbo, but even dialogue lines and technical aspects. It's the closest it's original film. It's not just a transposition in another context, but really an hybrid, joining the best of the western genre and the best (which is a lot) of the original movie. Conclusion, A Fistful of Dollars would be my favorite remake.
    Reply
  • By Dylan Richards
    March 14, 2010
    10:04 AM

    Star Wars which is a terrific remake of THE HIDDEN FORTRESS i normally hate when classics are remade but Star Wars took the basic story outline of Hidden Fortress and made it better by putting it in space and adding Droids
    Reply
  • By Matt Kovar
    March 14, 2010
    10:16 PM

    My favorite Kurosawa remake is absolutely Fistful of Dollars. Because I watched Fistful of Dollars and loved it I discovered Kurosawa films. I have no idea how I would have become exposed to Kurosawa without Fistful of Dollars. And unlike so many remakes out there, Fistful of Dollars really stands up on its own outside of the fact that it is a remake. There's really no comparison between the two.
    Reply
  • By Matt Kovar
    March 14, 2010
    10:18 PM

    ...no comparison besides the obvious.
    Reply
  • By Nick Hartel
    March 15, 2010
    12:15 AM

    Without a doubt "A Fistful of Dollars" is my favorite Kurosawa remake. Even though it's a remake, it feels different due to the personal touch of its director, Sergio Leone. Leone wisely uses what worked in "Yojimbo" but improves in two distinct areas: the finale and the score. I can't honestly remember much of "Yojimbo's" score but Ennio Morricone's epic orchestration is forever seared into my brain. Much of the film's atmosphere is dependent upon both the score and the performance of the leading man. I can't think of a single Western actor who is a better fit for a Toshiro Mifune role, than Clint Eastwood. Eastwood perfectly captures the mystique of the Eastern ronin as the now iconic, nameless gun-for-hire. The leading man factor is by and large, why the Prohibition Era themed remake, "Last Man Standing" didn't work. There wasn't a leading man alive who could equal the performance of Mifune or Eastwood. Finally, referring back to the finale, "Fistful," Leone has the edge by taking the theme of mastered simplicity and adding a momentary slice of the supernatural, when Eastwood's character takes bullet after bullet to the heart, but keeps on coming. At the end of the day they are thematically the same, but "Fistful" acknowledges the larger than life aspect of the film's hero.
    Reply
  • By Michael
    March 15, 2010
    04:11 AM

    A Fistful of Dollars is my favourite Kurosawa remake. There were but a few stylistic characteristics that were remade by Leone however, the theme is the only attribute truly being replicated in Fistful. Leone brings so much of his own artistry to Fistful that it becomes the very essence of what we know to be cinema. A Fistful of Dollars is cinema. Yojimbo is cinema.
    Reply
  • By David Smith
    March 15, 2010
    05:26 AM

    I know I'm a little behind the curve, but let me throw my hat into the ring and tell you why I consider "A Bugs Life" to be the best remake. I've noticed in other people explanations, they've mentioned that it's not a direct remake, but for me, that's one of the most appealing aspects. Nobody wants to see the same exact thing duplicated time and time again, not matter how great the original is. Don't you remember the monstrosity Gus Van Sant made out of the shot for shot remake of Psycho? After that, nobody wants to see a classic meddled with ever again. But when one takes a basic premise, such as Seven Samourai, and pours gallons of creativity into it and produce it in a relatively young medium, the film ceases to be so much a remake as it becomes a re imagining. This is when remakes, for me anyway, tend to succeed. Expanding on what is great rather than merely duplicating it. Now, to sum up my incoherent rambling into one sentence, consider this. To take an absolute masterpiece of cinema, alter it to appeal to mass modern audiences of all ages, create it using CGI which the filmmakers developed themselves, to change the characters and make them bugs, and to actually have it succeed! There's no doubt in my mind that this is the best Kurosawa remake! As an animator, I know how much work is involved and it's no easy task. Just as it's no easy task writing and filming an epic masterpiece, but Kurosawa seemed to do it with ease...
    Reply
  • By Zach
    March 15, 2010
    10:15 AM

    I am going to give a pair of films by Hong Kong director Johnnie To: Throw Down and PTU, which were inspired by Judo Saga and Stray Dog repectively. What strikes me as how similar and unique both directors are. Both have never stuck to one genre: Kurosawa varied from lighthearted comedy to Samurai films to noir while Johnnie To has done romantic comedies and ganster films. Also both play around with these genres conventions and allow us to see them in a new light. These are also not direct remakes and both retain To's unique playfulness and stylization.
    Reply
  • By marcus
    March 15, 2010
    11:00 AM

    a no-brainer. FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. scene for scene, its really is a remake.
    Reply
  • By Chris Martin
    March 15, 2010
    02:17 PM

    I know I'm late, but my favorite Kurosawa remake is the anime series "Samurai 7". It may be a little long-winded at times, but it is the same brilliant thematic elements tied together with ultra-futuristic robotic warfare. It's interesting how closely the militarization of the real world may end up mirroring elements of combat in "S7". It's the past vs the future, organic vs the inorganic, good vs evil... themes that current imperialist countries are using to drive their devolved military foreign policies. And quite the entertaining show, nonetheless.
    Reply
  • By Warren
    March 15, 2010
    03:54 PM

    This is a hard question. How does one judge what a remake should consist of? Sure retelling a story with a different setting is a possibility, but is that really a remake when it comes to a Kurosawa film? To me, answers like Magnificent Seven, Star Wars, Fist Full of Dollars, The Outrage, these are too obvious and way too easy. A remake should embody the spirit of the original while being its own film. It’s one thing to have inspiration, but truly another to take something original and remold it to something also original. That is why my pick for a remake is Mystery Men (Seven Samurai). Now before you laugh, …. ok stop laughing. Think about this. In Mystery Men, they are thrown together, they recruit each other, they don’t quite get along, there are self conflicted sidelines, and in the end they battle wave after wave to save the world using their own strengths and trusting in each other. One could argue that the small Japanese village is the world to the villager, and this would not be a loose interpretation. However we also must give credit that instead of just changing the backdrop and dressing Samurai up in Western clothing and giving them guns, we change the entire feel of the movie to a comedy. It is not an easy task when you think about it. Think of many movies, you could do a spoof on them and that of course would be funny, but how simple is it to take an idea and truly make its own story and funny? Mystery Men to me is the ideal remake. To take the unique vision of a genius, and really contort it with your own vision to have a very new, fresh, and original idea is the goal of a remake.
    Reply
  • By Mark Kawakami
    March 15, 2010
    04:03 PM

    My favorite remake is Pixar's "A Bug's Life". Very few remakes really get one critical aspect of Seven Samurai right: The hero of the story isn't Kikuchiyo, it isn't Kambei and it isn't Katsushiro. It's Rikichi, the farmer who lost his wife to the bandits. He's the first to propose fighting, leads the quest to find the Samurai, participates actively in the battles and in the end, it's Rikichi alone who is genuinely happy with the outcome. In "A Bug's Life" the main character, Flick (Dave Foley), is modeled after Rikichi. Plus, as with any Pixar movie, it's entirely delightful.
    Reply
  • By COPPA
    March 15, 2010
    07:25 PM

    [Favorite] Remake of a Kurasawa Film would have to be a collage of ridiculous television shows, told in flashbacks like Rashamon... now... I can only remember two at the moment... I must remember 3... like in the film... and the idea... kind of like... will be a parody of Rashomon as well...because each of these first two are somewhat clouded by the Memory of my mine's... That alas... I must confess I've never actually seen rashimon... thats whyive been spelling it differently... My first cloudhead inmemoirs' tv dreamstory is that of EMPTY NEST... I used to watch this biddy bad show when I was 8 and a half(speaking of remakes, how dare Yee!...), and so I remember David Leisure's character: Charley Dietz tells his version of the story(god knows what the story is I can't remember but clearly it is an inspired Rashamon three-tell-tale that was most statistically directed by steve zuckerman(no caps in a person's name is usually bad) but!—get fucking this!——Barbra and Carol have huge tits in Charley Dietz' version of the story, cause like, his character is thatofa Leach-pervert-sex-addict whom jumps from show to show... he was Roy Biggins in WINGS... flying on we see Joseph Lawrence on Blossum talking about his condom that he's been wearing all day...that kid reaked of cory haim rehab like feldman maybe sex sex; while Dennis Franz actually pulls it off of Moving on to Joey from Friends, or, more fairly, the actor, whoever he is,——fag who sucked in that space movie that never sequeled with h gram who, rumor has it; as ive been personally told;——after being in drugstore cowboy—was not totally comfortable with her celebrity,——as the man who rented a movie commented on the video that was playing at the time; maybe he said her name(maybe her actual name in the movie?) as she walked down an LA stripped of roaddust and smiled and he tells her that she was great in DSCB—alas she blushed to the point of embarrassment; anyway back to Joey from friends... he took the sleazy guy to a whole new level... that, I'm actually quoting a behind the scenes look at friends the show, who, all the other friends deemed the actor played by Joey to be a genius cause he refused to be a Jock-Ass and instead deemed more innocent...(similar perhaps to the reallife Gal who played DJ on FULL HOUSE who told tv guide "no fucking way am I gonna drink beer on screen for all the children to see" fearing perhaps her brother's wrath in the form of a "televangelist rape thatLL still deem me a christian virgin" that, on a lightlier note; if we all remember, Dj was promptly shaken at——in a beercan mockery sort Of way, of then, kids opening it on her, of then, maybe I believe myself to remember that bob saggat is actually smelling beer on her... but I dont remember .... (Loading...) ..... as well that dude I see sometimes in greenwich village who's on 30 rock is Very cool as he keeps the tradition of the pervert blazing! Well... the second tv show I remember is x files but I don't remember what the hell happened... infact... Moldy and Scular?? ... ?? .... ?.......... I promised myself I wouldnt use the internet anymore as Ive obviously been doing... so... ILL have to really rilly improvise here... alas, the link coming up at the end.... which is my last and final memory of a Rashomin like chip off the ol shoulder... inblocks... is being introduced now cause I really dont have anything to talk about, Im ashamed to tall all what I see infront of my eyes... the x files vision but oddly enough I do know that it a rashomaughn episode or hell I dont even know... maybe it was a quentarnio Tarenesque bolt of lightning... I say that I might recall a vampire perhaps? Or maybe Scully's mammaries were the enlarged fantasy of some wino perverts milkwonts! that; I remember calling my friend who was way too obsessed and in love with that red head girl adgent, which one, I dont know what her same is, probably Scully, it sounds female, alas, for what a bullshit ufo show it was, it feels right now to be A very, very logical... show... but, it wasnt a sitcom... and, my friend called me or maybe I called him... and he said some sort of comment about it maybe being directedly secretly by QT whom would go on to actually direct unsecretly, an epi of that show about stuff... wtf? CSI? ... But! My last Rashamon spell is something completely underground and known only to the rarest of Rashomon googlinaires...if you listen to the lyrics there is hope... they have been signed, to the best of my ability I share with all my own discovery within a story that is, in a way; an alterrization zannie truth... Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ3C9x33M4U Cɐddo
    Reply
  • By James Davie
    March 16, 2010
    12:30 PM

    Without a doubt my favourite remake of "Seven Samurai" is the classic western , "The Magnificent Seven." I was working in a video store when I decided to give "The Magnificent Seven" a test drive, and was blown away with the unexpectedly nuanced acting and excellent direction. This discovery led me to research the film, which inevitably led me to the works of Kurosawa and "Seven Samurai," itself, which floored me with it's power. From there it was a short leap to "The Hidden Fortress" and a world of films I never knew existed. One thing led to another all the way to the Criterion Collection, and here we are now!
    Reply