Director Akira Kurosawa's Final Script Gets Anime Film (Updated)
posted on by Egan Loo
The Masque of Black Death, the last script that legendary Oscar-winning director Akira Kurosawa co-wrote before his death in 1998, will finally be animated for a planned theatrical release in 2010. Kurosawa and his writing collaborator Masato Ide (Red Beard, Kagemusha, Ran) based their script on "The Masque of the Red Death," Edgar Allan Poe's 1842 horror short story about a prince's attempt to escape a plague while holding a masquerade in his abbey. Kurosawa and Ide's version resets the setting to a fictional version of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, when most of humanity faces a deadly contagion. The suspense story deals with the human condition when people are pushed to extremes and despair.
Kurosawa began writing the script after his 1975 film Dersu Uzala, another film set in Russia. He and his only son, executive producer Hisao Kurosawa, had initially planned for the film to be shot in 1998. The film's producers spent the previous year in the United States and Europe to secure financing and search for a director. (The Masque of Black Death would have been the first script Kurosawa co-wrote but did not direct himself.) Ever since Kurosawa's death in 1998 until now, however, those plans have been shelved. Kurosawa never directed an animated feature, although his Yōjimbo and Seven Samurai films inspired the anime series Kaze no Yojimbo and Samurai 7, respectively.
The Masque of Black Death is one of two theatrical projects that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kurosawa's birth. The other project is a Hollywood remake of Rashōmon, the 1950 film that captured the attention of the world's film critics. The movie eventually won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The academy's California headquarters hosted the world premiere of the original Rashōmon's digital restoration on Thursday evening. The academy is also hosting "Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist," a three-month exhibition of original drawings, props, costumes, screenplays, and other historical items from his seven-decade film career.
Image © 2002 Toho Co., Ltd.
Update: One instance of the year 1998 corrected (thanks, crazychild), and updated with the project's official English spelling and promotional image from Lotus.
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