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 Low looks production bound. The project originally
began 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.