Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rikyu, part 2

Our final interview during the most recent trip to Tokyo was, like our previous one with actor Rentaro Mikuni, done for BCI Eclipse's upcoming DVD of Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1989 historical epic Rikyu. We were privileged enough to spend a couple of hours with prolific Daiei producer Hiroaki Fujii, who not only produced many of the works by legendary (and sadly unappreciated in the West) director Yasuzo Masumura, but also chanbara by Kenji Misumi, Kimiyoshi Yasuda, Kazuo Ikehiro, and Kazuo Mori, as well as many films by Kon Ichikawa, including Fires on the Plain. His IMDB listing counts nearly 80 films to his credit, but in actuality, he's produced more than 200. Fujii was also close with many members of Japan's 1960s literary scene, including authors Kobo Abe and Yukio Mishima, and produced Mishima's self-made short film Patriotism (Yukoku). In short, he's a man who was seemingly at the center of the Japanese filmmaking world for many years, and it was a great honor to be able to hear him tell stories about many of the things he'd done.

Most of our interview was devoted to Rikyu, a project he was called upon to specially produce by director Teshigahara, whom he'd gotten to know through Abe, writer of Teshigahara's earlier films like A Woman in the Dunes and The Face of Another. But we also managed to touch upon everything from Mishima to Masumura to one of my favorite Japanese films, the Rampo Edogawa-source tale of sex and madness, Blind Beast (aka Moju).

Watch for the Rikyu DVD some time mid-next year, packed with its semi-sequel Basara: The Princess Goh, also directed by Teshigahara, but not produced by Fujii. And watch for more updates soon about other projects and diversions.


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