Lost - and Gained - in Translation: Films That Began in Japan

Lost – and Gained – in Translation: Films That Began in Japan

(from left) Edge Of Tomorrow (Warner Bros.);  The Ring (Paramount Pictures);  The Magnificent Seven (Warner Bros.).

(from left) Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros.); Ring (Paramount Pictures); Seven magnificent ones (Warner Bros.).
picture: Todd Gilchrist/Warner Bros.; Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros.

Express train will definitely be number one at the box office this weekend – with a bullet. Why not, with a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Bad Bunny, Brian Tyree Henry and Joey King, and stunt/action director David Leitch (John Wick, Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw) behind the camera? The film is just the latest in a long line of Hollywood productions that were either inspired by Japanese stories or were direct adaptations of Japanese properties.

Based Maria Brouka 2010 novel by popular Japanese author Kōtarō Isaka, Express train takes its premise—several killers are stuck together on a moving train—and veers into its own territory. While the location is largely the same, the cast includes Americans and Brits alongside Japanese actors, with Pitt front and center as a hapless hired gun named Ladybug.

Notably, Isaka himself approved Sony Pictures’ changes to his source material, indicating that the adaptation may not be beholden to an exclusively Japanese cast or production. “I don’t have any sense that I want people to understand Japanese literature or culture,” he said New York Times. “It’s not like I understand Japan that much. This means that the film can inspire viewers to get hooked Maria Brouk or one of his other books, the nuances of which have been translated into other languages ​​on the printed page, but not transformed the way Leitch does in the film.

Suffice it to say Express train is not the first Hollywood film to originate in Japan. AV club looks at how Tinseltown approaches several other projects — some that started as books and others that found success first on film in their native language. In any case, the power of these stories transcends (or at least tests) geographic and cultural boundaries, as well as benefits from them.

Seven magnificent ones (1960)

THE BIG SEVEN (1960) | Official Trailer | MGM

It’s a little known but very relevant fact that Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai was actually released in the US as Seven magnificent ones. So it made perfect sense that John Sturges’ adaptation bore the same name. With Sturges and a top-notch cast that included Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Eli Wallach as the hiss-worthy villain, they created a classic—translated into that most American of genres, the Western—that works on its own merits while simultaneously honor Seven Samurai.

A handful of dollars (1964)

A Fistful of Dollars – Official 4K Restoration Trailer

A handful of dollars is a melting pot of cinema, something of a miracle, and the subject of much debate when it comes to adapting Japanese films. It is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 samurai drama Jojimbo—only Kurosawa and co-writer/producer Ryūzō Kikushima received no credit. Quite understandably, Toho, the production entity behind it Jojimboshe filed a lawsuit that delayed the release A handful of dollars. Of courseA Fistful of Dollars it was never, ever supposed to work, what with an American lead (Clint Eastwood), an Italian director (Sergio Leone) who didn’t speak English, and Italian, German and Spanish producers. And yet it is a masterpiece and one of the best spaghetti westerns ever made.

Pillow book (1996)

The Pillow Book (1996) | Trailer | Vivian Wu | Ewan McGregor | Yoshi Oida

Peter Greenaway goes full Peter Greenaway with this erotically inspired drama Pillow book, the centuries-old diary of a Japanese woman named Sei Shōnagon. The plot is typical Greenaway, with Vivian Wu as Nagiko, a model and poet with a fetish for writing on human flesh. She finds a willing partner in Jerome (Ewan McGregor), who encourages Nagiko to “use my body as the pages of a book.” The film is sexy, disturbing and stylish (featuring Greenaway style like overlapping frames and an obsession with numbers) – and definitely not for everyone.

Godzilla (1998) and Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla (1998) – Godzilla Rises Scene (1/10) | Movie clips

The great fire monster Godzilla has always been synonymous with Japan, although Hollywood has been attracted to the destructive power of this creature almost since the beginning of the franchise: Three years after the original release, Raymond Burr was added to the Japanese film for the hybrid of 1956. the production of the so-called Godzilla, King of the Monsters! for US release. But it wasn’t until 1998 that Hollywood really decided to make its own Godzilla movie. By then, of course, the atomic-age paranoia that inspired the original—and the intense sadness that permeates its story—had long been forgotten, leaving only an empty spectacle behind. film by Roland Emmerich was correctly judged in 1998, but Gareth Edwards got more accurate with his version of the story in 2014, which of course led to the “monsterverse” that introduced another creature — both friend and foe.

Ring (2002)

The Ring (2002) Trailer #1 | Classic trailers for movie clips

Ring-in which anyone who watches a cursed video dies seven days later – can claim their being and a remake that spawned a flood of Americanized iterations of Japanese films, especially horror. Whether this is good or bad is up for debate, but Ringwritten by Ehren Kruger and directed by Gore Verbinski, wisely doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror hit of the same name, itself based on Koji Suzuki’s 1991 book. Ring he was truthful Ringand Ring tries to capture the, ahem, spirit of its source materials, though some purists have argued that it fails. The film is edgy, atmospheric and features strong performances from female leads Naomi Watts and Daveigh Chase. Success Ring opened the floodgates of horror adaptation: Dark waterbased Dark water (also based on the Suzuki story); Pulsebased Pulse; One missed callbased One missed call; and Spitebased Ju-on: Resentment.

Shall we dance? (2004)

Shall we dance? (2004) | Official Trailer (HD) – Jennifer Lopez, Richard Gere | MIRAMAX

Not every remake of a Japanese movie in the 2000s was a horror movie. 1996 romantic drama Shall we dance? followed a down-on-his-luck Japanese man who learned ballroom dancing, much to the surprise of his wife, who thinks he’s having an affair. The American remake gave us Richard Gere as the husband, Susan Sarandon as the wife and Jennifer Lopez as Gere’s dance teacher. The film has received so many reviews, but it’s a personal favorite, with charming performances, lots of heart and understated direction by Peter Chelsom.

Eight below (2006)

Eight Below (2006) Official Trailer #1 – Paul Walker Movie HD

Eight below follows a rescue mission involving a bunch of sled dogs outside in the freezing cold. This is also a basic assumption Antarcticathe 1983 Japanese adventure/survival film it was based on. Antarctica itself was modeled after a real incident that occurred in 1958. Directed by Frank Marshall, Eight below moves the events to 1993 and offers a different setting with American characters (played by Paul Walker, Moon Bloodgood, Jason Biggs, etc.). It’s a thrilling, tense ride with heroic, photogenic dogs and you can’t help but cheer and cry at the end.

Speed ​​racer (2008), Ghost In The Shell (2017), Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Speed ​​Racer (2008) Official Trailer – Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon Movie HD

Japanese manga and anime series have served as launching pads for several Hollywood productions. The Wachowskis’ colorful, highly stylized box-office spoof Speed ​​racer was based on Move GoGoGo, Speed ​​racer manga and animated series from the 1960s. Ghost In The Shell, the wildly popular manga, sparked a cottage industry of movies, games, and shows in Japan and the U.S. Unfortunately, the mega-film version starring Scarlett Johansson drew terrible reviews and bombed at the box office. And then there is Alita: Battle Angelbased on the manga title Pistol. Even the formidable team between James Cameron (producer and co-writer) and Robert Rodriguez (director) couldn’t push this visually stunning adaptation into a blockbuster.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow – Official Trailer 1 [HD]

Many fans of the Tom Cruise hit Edge of Tomorrow they don’t realize it was derived from a Japanese book, a science fiction novel for young adults All you need is to kill Hiroshi Sakurazaka, published in 2004. Later, in 2014, the book was adapted into a manga in Japan, an English-language graphic novel in America, and also into a vibrant film directed by Doug Liman. Edge of Tomorrowwhich plays like a version of an alien invasion Candlemaswith Cruise’s character, Major William Cage, in a time loop and dying repeatedly until he—with the help of Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt)—saves the day.

Silence (2016)

Trailer SILENCE (2016)

Martin Scorsese co-wrote and directed Silence, a drama based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel of the same name. In it, two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) try to spread the message of Catholic Christianity in Japan while also trying to find their mentor (Liam Neeson). The book has already been adapted. Japanese screenwriter and director Masahiro Shinoda collaborated with Endo on the screenplay of the acclaimed 1971 film, the so-called Silence. Scorsese’s ambitious, nearly three-hour version drew generally positive reviews, but it ranks among the filmmaker’s least successful titles in American theaters, barely breaking the $7 million mark.

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