As a culture, we’ve been trained lately to turn our nose up in disgust at the announcement of yet another remake of a classic and widely-loved film. For instance, if I told you that a remake of Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning Western triumph Unforgiven was in the works, you’d likely give me the “I smell poo” face, right? Right, because that’s what’s normal.
Well, poo on you! It is being remade. The thing is, it’s being remade with a twist, and it’s one that’s hard to not be curious about.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Eastwood’s Unforgiven will get a remake with a Japanese twist, with Ken Watanabe (of Inception, The Last Samurai fame) in the starring role. Instead of a wild west locale, expect something closer to feudal Japan. Instead of cowboys, expect samurai warriors.
Yes, we’ve heard it all before, how awful that they’re remaking one of my favorite movies and all that. But consider this: Themes of the Old West genre actually translate pretty well into samurai-era Japan. We’re talking a plot that’s potentially preserved point by point and characters that do the same. Don’t believe me? The Magnificent Seven is a hallmark of the Old West in film. And it’s a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai. Eastwood’s A Fistfull of Dollars? Kurosawa again. This time a film called Yojimbo. It happens the other-way around, and it works.
The film will be titled Yurusarezaru Mono (directly translated: “A Thing That Can’t Be Forgiven”), it will take place in the 1880′s (like the original) and will see release sometime in 2013. Watanabe plays the Eastwood character, a samurai with a violent past living on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, brought out of retirement for one last lucrative job. Koichi Sato will play the Gene Hackman role, and Akira Emoto will play the Morgan Freeman character.
Will it live up to the original? Maybe not, but, respectfully handled, it’ll be a good watch either way. Maybe Hollywood should start doing this instead. Remakes with aesthetic twists. Breakfast Club in space, anyone?