Nichols remaking Kurosawa's High and Low with Mamet

Akira Kurosawa
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As far as remakes go, few directors have had their works re-imagined as many times as Akira Kurosawa. The most famous of these, A Fistful of Dollars and The Magnificent Seven, have been almost as successful as the originals. Since Kurosawa sticks to such universal themes and does so with a self-consciously Western eye, it's no surprise that as time goes by more directors are looking back to Kurosawa for future inspiration.

While some of these projects, like Jim Sheridan's work on Ikiru, have been stalled, surprisingly, Mike Nichols' remake of High and Lowbegan in 1999 when Martin Scorsese, a huge Kurosawa fan, commissioned its screenplay. This fell into the hands of David Mamet, best known as for his play, Glengarry Glen Ross, but quite a director in his own right, best shown by House of Games and this year's Redbelt. Nichols isn't a brand-name auteur, but his features The Graduate, Postcards from the Edge, and episodes of Angels in America should assure anyone worried of a bastardization. 

It's in fact a bit fitting that the film is coming back West, since High and Low  was originally  based on the pulp detective story King's Ransom by Evan Hunter.  The film is particularly admired for its tense first act and the strong influence of film noir, which is quite unique for a Japanese film of the period. The remake is being produced by Scott Rudin, who currently runs Miramax, and rumor has it Scorsese will stay involved as executive producer. It's still too early for casting or production dates, but the unlikely combination of Nichols, Mamet, Kurosawa and Scorsese already has us excited.