The proposed remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic The Seven Samurai is moving forward. Although there are still no stars or director attached to the project, the studio hopes to have it in front of the cameras this coming fall with a targeted 2009 release date.
The money for this, as well as the John Cusack/Gong Li vehicle Shanghai, will be coming from the Weinstein Company’s Asian Film Fund, which they established last August. The fund, which sports $285 million in its coffers, helped finance The Forbidden Kingdom, which opens on Friday.
Hopefully, these two films will be better than Forbidden Kingdom. (See our review of Forbidden Kingdom here.)
But truth be told, I don’t have high hopes for a remake of Seven Samurai. It’s not that I don’t think a remake of the film, or any film can be successful. Seven Samurai has already been remade twice before with differing results. The key to those two remakes was in taking the spirit of the story and transplanting it into another genre. The classic Magnificent Seven (1960) is Seven Samurai done as a western, while the slightly less classic Battle Beyond The Stars (1980) places the tale in outer space.
I’ve always held that remakes are fine, if they bring something new in terms of ideas or approach to the material. If you’re going to remake Seven Samurai, why not set the story in today’s modern business world, with the Seven being consultants trying to keep a non-profit corporation from being devoured by a huge for-profit conglomerate? The possibilities are endless.
But Kurosawa’s original film is near perfect. There is absolutely no reason to try and improve on it.