For years now, Akira Kurosawa’s films have been just sitting there hogging all the respect, refusing to share their near-universally lauded stories and masterful composition, except among the dozens and dozens of filmmakers who have just ripped them off and called them something else. Well, Kurosawa’s reign of terror and selfishness ends today: The Los Angeles-based Splendent Media has just signed a deal to represent the rights to 69 Kurosawa projects, riding into the proverbial fortress and liberating them for all the filmmakers in the village to remake and otherwise share among the modern people who will no longer be cowed into reading subtitles. And along with all of his most famous, prestige-hoarding works, the deal also includes 19 unproduced scripts that can be adapted without Kurosawa lording over them from upon his throne of blood, which is also the name of a movie that someone else can finally make now.
Ditto films like Rashomon, Ran, and Yojimbo—though not The Seven Samurai, as this film is already being remade again by The Weinstein Company, who were among the first to lead the charge of emancipating Kurosawa’s work from Kurosawa. Others that have already been safely absconded with include Drunken Angel, Ikiru (which Tom Hanks once had a benevolent, crinkled eye on), and High And Low, which at last report was unshackled from the crime movie hegemony of being a Martin Scorsese/David Mamet collaboration and set loose to become a Chris Rock/Mike Nichols comedy. They are free now.