KUROSAWA'S BLOOD MERIDIAN OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST

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  • 03 May 2015 at 7:26 pm #7059

    Peter Josyph
    Member

    I’ve moved my share of this thread over here to keep the conference thread for conference business… although what could be more critical to a Cormac McCarthy conference than what I’ve posted below, I cannot imagine. I am hoping that responses can be moved here as well.

    I am not sure why RICK is keeping this a secret about the MEMPHIS ho-down, but I have heard reliable rumors on the wing at my window that he will finally be presenting his review of the till-now-lost KUROSAWA adaptation of BLOOD MERIDIAN OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST, of which Rick finagled, with the Kurosawa estate, to have several viewings last time he was in Tokyo with his son Ian.

    As it is unclear whether this film – apparently unfinished by the Master at the time of his departure – will ever have a commercial release, Rick’s review of the film might be the closest we can come to seeing it in our lifetime… and beyond our lifetime, depending on where we end up, we might not care for cinema at all… or we might be living in – or acting out – our own blood meridians…

    Since those very private and privileged Tokyo screenings Rick has hinted at the content of the film, and has referred to his article glancingly, but I have yet to hear a word of it. I am hoping that Marty Priola will be filming Rick’s presentation for YouTube, for this will be an event of import not only for the world of literature but for cinema as well. As this much-anticipated find of a film has been viewed by neither Spielberg nor Scorsese nor even George Lucas (whose STAR WARS 1 is an adaptation of Kurosawa), I am expecting a most interesting celebrity attendance at Rick’s talk, and for the Cormac McCarthy Society’s YouTube site I anticipate an infinite number of likes and views.

    I know what you all are thinking. If what Rick saw was not a commercial release, and it would obviously not have been subtitled yet, how the hell did he know what the actors were saying?

    The answer is simple: Rick is a sushi fanatic and he has learned the language from sushi masters at sushi counters all over the globe. And no, it is not restricted to ordering sea urchin with quail’s egg in Japanese…

    Me, I can’t wait.

    I mean for the review, not the sea urchin with quail’s egg or whatever it was that Rick ordered for me and that either had to go down very quickly or back out again equally as fast…


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    03 May 2015 at 9:15 pm #7060

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    I’ve been working on Kurosawa’s unfinished masterpiece Shi no bouto (死の舞踏 – The Dance of Death) for some time now. It was to have reunited Kurosawa with his estranged one time leading man, Toshiro Mifune, as the leader of a group of bloodthirsty ronin who persecuted Christians in the service of the Daimyo Matsukura in 1635. One of these mercenary samurai, an enormous sumo-like killer who was to be played by the retired sumo champion Konishiki, was actually an oni sent from hell to foment fear and hatred of Japanese Christians. The film was supposed to conclude with the massacre of Christians at Shimabara and the complete closure of Japan to western contact, except for the small island port of Dejima in Nagasaki. I hope to have my paper ready by the October conference.

    Meanwhile, perhaps even more exciting is the paper that Peter Josyph has been working on assiduously for nearly five years: a study of the marginal notes and cellophane geology in my own original Picador paperback copy of Blood Meridian, which was actually autographed by Cormac McCarthy – who bemoaned the difficulty of finding enough unmarked clear space anywhere in the book to sign it for me. I suspect that the likelihood of my actually completing my work on the Shi no buoto paper will be dependent on Peter finishing his work on my copy of Blood Meridian; since, of course, we began working on our respective projects at exactly the same time.


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    04 May 2015 at 6:01 pm #7064

    Peter Josyph
    Member

    A restaurant called Jewel in Melville, Long Island has a sushi place attached to it: Be-Ju Sushimi & Sake Bar, the kind of restaurant that brings your soup over another bowl over a lit fire, and places a Zen worry stone at every place setting.

    I was in the sake stage (well, third sake stage) looking up a line in BLOOD MERIDIAN OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST when one of the three chefs behind the counter became animated in my direction. His grandfather, he said, worked for Kurosawa in Tokyo at a time when his parents farmed him out to his grandfather due to difficulties that he did not disclose. His grandfather, he said, had been a translator during the war, he had visited the States both before and after the war, and he was employed to work on scripts for Kurosawa, not as a translator but as a kind of literary custodian/supervisor: seeing that everything was typed up properly, making sure that all pages necessary for each day’s shoot were cleanly presented to be copied and distributed (Kurosawa, apparently, liked VERY clean pages), but also, occasionally, and never enough to be credited, to consult with Kurosawa about a line or a scene, for Kurosawa respected his work and, the chef believed, admired his grandfather’s cultured bearing and thorough education in matters both Japanese and American. During the making of SHI NO BOUTO – the pronunciation of which the chef somehow reduced from five syllables to three – his grandfather had American copies of BLOOD MERIDIAN OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST in the house. In fact, he said that there was one in his grandfather’s bedroom, one in the livingroom, and one in his grandfather’s favorite room in the house, the bathroom, which was rather a small closet with an old-style wooden toilet that sounded as if it would have delighted Tanizaki. My chef said that at the time his English was too poor for him to understand even a sentence of the book, but that he was fascinated by his grandfather’s description of the story.

    At this point a rather large and rather yang group of revelers entered the place, and after I waited as long as I could, I had to leave without hearing more of the story. Hopefully he’ll be there next time I go back. But I ask you: what are the odds that that chef would have seen ANYBODY sitting for sushi at his counter with a copy of BM flagged with chopsticks, a pack of matches and a napkin? But no, it was NOT Rick’s copy: that’s still in the cigar box in which I’m storing it against a nuclear blast in the neighborhood.


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    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Peter Josyph.
    04 May 2015 at 7:03 pm #7065

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    I found it amusing that Kurosawa cast Konishiki to play Bugyu (奉行, which can also mean “judge” or “magistrate” – during the 17th century it had both senses), the Shogunate administrator placed in charge of the Matsukura Katsuie (to have been played by Toshiro Mifune) persecutions of the Christians in the Amakusas and on Shimabara. Konishiki became a sort of fat male Kim Kardashian in Japanese kitsch celebrity culture after his wrestling days were over, wearing outlandish fashions (which of course had to be custom made for him) and frequenting the night club (and Geisha bathhouse) circuits. When I think of him in one of those baths, I keep seeing Judge Holden in the cistern in Chihuahua City. I almost wonder if that isn’t where Kurosawa found him.

    An interesting addition to the story – as the foil, or opposite, of Bugyu, is the charismatic teenager Amakusa Tokisada (天草四郎時貞?), depicted as a Christian mystic and leader of the Amakusa rebellion, which directly preceded and precipitated the Shimabara rebellion. The historical Tokisada, also known as Shiro, was fifteen years old, supposed to have mystic powers and to be something just short of a prophet of God. In the context of the film he’s both a male Joan of Arc figure and, as Bugyu’s arch-rival, also occupies the (dislocated) place of the Kid in Blood Meridian. What’s really interesting is that legend has it that Shiro was the illegitimate son of Toyotomi Hideyori, son of Toyotom1 Hideyoshi, the “Japanese Simon Bolivar,” who was the sixteenth century general who united Japan by defeating the disparate feudal warlords who preceded the Tokugawa Shogunate. Ergo, symbolically, Shiro tries to unravel the political unity forged by his grandfather. Clearly, as he always did, Kurosawa-san was using the storyline and main characters from Blood Meridian to revision a crucial moment in Japanese political and spiritual history.

    What a shame that this film was never completed.


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    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Rick Wallach.
    07 Jun 2015 at 11:06 am #7218

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    I just came across an interesting tidbit about Toshiro Mifune, who was estranged from his mentor Kurosawa following his starring role in the master’s 1965 masterpiece Red Beard but was planning to reunite with him for Shi no bouto. A bit irritated with the lack of work Kurosawa had offered him at the time, in 1962 he agreed to star in a Mexican film about a social climbing peasant entitled Animas Trujano (English: An Important Man), even though he spoke no Spanish. He actually won several major Mexican drama awards for this performance.

    I have to wonder if his positive experience and reception in Mexico had any bearing on his decision to get back together with the Master for a film based on Blood Meridian.


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    07 Jun 2015 at 7:14 pm #7221

    Peter Josyph
    Member
    07 Jun 2015 at 7:24 pm #7222

    Peter Josyph
    Member

    Watching ANIMAS TRUJANO is like being in Hell. It’s just as likely that Mifune fled for his cinema life into Kurosawa’s arms, where he waited patiently for McCarthy to write BLOOD MERIDIAN OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST.

    Here’s a sample of the movie.

    I’ve warned you:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr2ltFsMq-8


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    07 Jun 2015 at 7:32 pm #7223

    Peter Josyph
    Member

    As with Richard Harris’s non-Italian Italian in Antonioni’s RED DESERT, Mifune is at least mouthing Spanish, so that the looping is surprisingly well synch’d. Don’t confuse SPEAKING SPANISH as someone who knows the language with SPEAKING SPANISH as an actor in front of a lens. With a coach one can learn one’s sides (as they are called) for each day’s shoot and say them with conviction. If you watch enough of the film, you see that the dialogue was not exactly A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS.

    Here’s more:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SysHuOQZ55Y


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    07 Jun 2015 at 7:37 pm #7224

    Peter Josyph
    Member

    Here is the online description for the current edition of the Japanese BLOOD MERIDIAN OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST:

    “The boy ran away from home at 14 years old and I made living by a beggar and a theft and roamed about each place. Time is the reclamation times in America. Every race and language was mixed and confused, and the wasteland was influenced with violence by corruption if barbarian. After an aimless trip to go for, the Indian subjugation corps to lead Grand ton captain by the invitation of the very big man measuring more than 2 meters called “the judge” who knew it by sight than before increased the boy. – that the fate of the boy was swallowed in an extremity of the brutality by the reencounter with this mysterious judge who murdered innocent people without any hesitation while I was familiar with philosophy, science, a foreign language. On “New York Times” newspaper, it is elected by the best American novels by the vote of the well-known writer (2006-1981). The masterpiece of a great master spelling the middle of a journey of a boy and filibusters in a cool-headed stroke of the pen.”


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    07 Jun 2015 at 7:39 pm #7225

    Peter Josyph
    Member

    血液子午線
    Ketsueki shigosen


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