It was 1982. I was 35 years old.
I was taking a short rest after finishing several negotiations on joint production agreement of “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” by director Nagisa Oshima. Mr. Masato Hara, President of Herald Ace and the executive producer of “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”, called me asking if I was interested in working for director Akira Kurosawa. I received another phone call from Ms. Teruyo Nogami, the associate producer of Kurosawa production, and on August 13 of that year we had the first meeting.
My first impression of Ms. Nogami was that she was a mannish person. I recall her dressed in black and wearing baggy work pants. She talked concisely in her deep voice, which showed her business ability.
According to what Ms. Nogami said, Mr. Kurosawa had been thinking of making a film named “Ran (Rebellion)" for five years, which have not been realized yet due to the lack of funds. Recently, however, a major French movie company Gaumont agreed to finance the movie and the plan seems to go forward. Other than Gaumont, there is a possibility that Columbia Pictures, a U.S. movie company, may invest in the movie, or Toho may also want to participate in the financing. In any case, we need to make written agreements and we'd like to have your assistance.
Ms. Nogami continued that she wanted me to meet Mr. Kurosawa, but he was in Gotemba then. I thought this was just a simple contract-making job. Akira Kurosawa was already a legend at that time, whom I never thought I could really meet. For some time thereafter I did not have any contact from Mr. Nogami and I figured that the fund raising had ended in failure. Talking about movies, plans are quite frequently failed to be realized even after the production announcement are made, which is quite different from what we know as regular business practices. In October, Ms. Nogami suddenly called me on the telephone saying that she and Mr. Kurosawa wanted to come and see me.
On October 5, 1982, I opened the door of the meeting room and found a large-framed Mr. Kurosawa sitting next to Ms. Nogami. As I tried to give my card to Mr. Kurosawa, he stood up, smiled at me and said “I don't carry my cards with me".
Mr. Kurosawa was 72 years old at that time, and was a very large person. He was not only tall but was a stoutly-boned and powerfully built person. Each part of his body was extremely large. His hands looked twice as large as mine and his thick earlobes left a strong impression on my mind. He was tanned and looked vigorous.
According to the memo of this day's meeting, the production budget of “Ran" was $8.6 million (approximately 2.4 billion yen by the rate of that time). Toho would pay 700 million yen and the rest would be borne by Gaumont and another company of Silberman who newly participated in this project. The movie was going to be produced jointly by Kurosawa Production and Silberman's company, and it was necessary that Mr. Kurosawa should have the final decision right on the creative side. The “Ran" was planned to enter in the 37th Festival de Cannes (1984).
Although no more detailed stories were told at the meeting, I would like to describe the history of “Ran" until that time based on what I know today.
According to “Records of Director Akira Kurosawa's Work ‘Ran' ‘85" issued by Herald Ace, it was in 1975 when Mr. Kurosawa began writing a script of “Ran" together with Hideo Oguni and Masato Ide. With respect to this script, there was an agreement between Toho Pictures, Inc. and Kabushiki Kaisha 41. K.K. 41 was a company owned by Yoichi Matsue, the producer of the movie “Dersu Uzala". Under this agreement, Toho Pictures and 41 were going to prepare a script for the work called “Kurosawa Work (non-official title)" at that time. The script was going to be written three writers, Kurosawa, Oguni and Ide, and the cost for writing the script was to be shared by Toho Pictures and 41. There was another agreement on “Kurosawa Work (non-official title)" between K.K.41 and Nippon Herald Films Inc., whereunder Nippon Herald Films Inc. was going to pay a certain amount of money to 41 as a consideration for 41's efforts to commission Nippon Herald Films Inc. to do overseas distribution business of the film. Both agreements were executed in 1976. K.K.41, however, left the project afterwards because of the unsuccessful fund-raising. We needed them to renounce the rights because it would be troublesome if the parties concerned begin claiming their rights on the script. In this connection, I met with Mr. Matsue for several times. According to Mr. Matsue, Toshiro Mifune was the original cast to play the leading role of “Ran" and Mr. Mifune was making efforts in fund-raising also. Mr. Matsue told me that Mr. Mifune advised him not to do business with Toho and he would find and bring an investor from the United States instead, which never realized.
In 1978, it was decided that Mr. Kurosawa was to produce the film “Kagemusha" with Toho. As for Mr. Kurosawa, he really wanted to make “Ran" but failed to obtain Toho's agreement because the theme was too miserable, and he was forced to take “Kagemusha" instead. “Kagemusha" was completed in 1980 and won the grand prix at Festival de Cannes in May and finally he could start shooting “Ran". The fund-raising, however, did not go smoothly. In January, 1982, they tried to gather production costs from companies by so-called sponsorship-method, which also failed to succeed. In February of the same year, Gaumont offered its investing of 3 million dollars. Some negotiations were already made based on that prospect.
Among the reference materials that Ms. Nogami gave to me, I found a record of Kurosawa and Nogami traveling to Venice and Paris in September, where they met with Daniel Toscan du Plantier-we called him Toscan), the chairman of Gaumont.
On Friday September 3, a dinner was held at Palazzo Dalio (Toscan's residence). Based on the talks at the dinner, the production cost of “Ran" was $7.65 million. Toho's MG (minimum guarantee) was $3 million, Gaumont $3 million and the rest of $1.65 million should be procured from somewhere.
On Sunday, September 5, we had a meeting with Toscan at Palazzo Dalio. There was an idea of making worldwide distributions with Gaumont 50% and Columbia 50%. If, however, Columbia wishes to have a negative pickup deal-she would pay in exchange for a negative and not pay an advance money-Kurosawa Production would be obliged to prepare the money meanwhile. The unsolved problem is whether or not Kurosawa Production could take out a loan from the bank with such amount of money. Toscan showed us an idea that if Kurosawa Production could not borrow money, Gaumont would bring a bank-reliable foreign production in order to procure funds. As a candidate, the name of Serge Silberman, Luis Bunuel's producer, was mentioned. Toscan added that he might be able to get a subsidy ($1 million) from French government because the French minister of culture Jack Lang is quite enthusiastic about movies.
On Thursday, September 9, Mr. Kurosawa and Ms. Nogami moved to Paris from Venice and they stayed overnight at Hotel Raphael.
On Friday, September 10, Toscan brought Silberman with him to the hotel and we had a lunch together. Silberman took a look at the budget list of “Ran", gave a comment and ordered us to make a more detailed list. He added that it's not only the figures that he is concerned but he would like to have direct discussions with Kurosawa and exchange opinions. Otherwise, he would not be interested in producing the movie. Both of Mr. Kurosawa and Ms. Nogami visited the Ministry of Culture and met the minister of culture Jack Lang from 3:30 p.m. Lang said “It is peculiar that a virtuoso like you, Mr. Kurosawa, cannot procure movie funds in Japan. You've already made a big success in the movie business." Kurosawa answered “Executives of the Japanese movie companies do not tackle new things. They don't love movies, they don't try to understand movies either. The executives rather hate me. All the excellent Japanese movie directors have already passed away, and I'm the only one who's working hard." After returning to the hotel, Mr. Kurosawa and Ms. Nogami had further discussions with Toscan. They decided to have Silberman visit Japan for one week to have detailed discussions on budget, estimate and cost. Negotiations with Toho on MG and negotiations with Columbia would also be held simultaneously.
Talking about 70-million-yen funding by Toho, this is also covered under a negative pickup deal, whereby agreements were made that Toho would make payments in exchange of negatives (first completed version) and no MG-advance-payment method would be taken. The relationship between Mr. Kurosawa and Toho seemed quite severe at that time and Toho made no concessions on the above conditions when at a later date I went with Silberman to see Mr. Matsuoka, President of Toho.
Shortly after the meeting with Mr. Kurosawa and Ms. Nogami, I was going to meet Silberman.
According to Ms. Nogami, Silberman (Serge Silberman-some people called his name in French pronunciation as Serge Silberman, but we called him Serge Silberman in English pronunciation) is a Russian-born Jew, who was once imprisoned in Auschwitz Birkenau during the times of Nazism. After he immigrated to France, he became famous as a producer of Luis Bunuel and became enormously rich. He was called the boss in European movie business.
Silberman and Ully Pichardt, production manager, were staying at Room 1615 of the Imperial Hotel. I just called the Imperial Hotel and found that the room is called Phoenix Suite. I tried to ask them the room charge of the suite but they answered they do not usually accept a reservation for the suite asking me who the hell I was. At that time, the room charge was rumored to be 300,000 yen per overnight stay. Mr. Kurosawa used to describe Silberman as a stingy man, but he did know how to spend the money correctly. To use the money in order to make yourself look bigger than your actual-self, in such a money-is-the-only- thing-you-can-count-on world (like the movie business), he was making good use of it. Silberman summoned top Japanese movie business leaders to this room, he sure got his money's worth.
Silberman was a rather small guy. He looked around 65 years old although I never asked him how old he was. Maybe he looked older than his age after surviving hardships. He said once in New York he had met a traffic accident on the way from the airport to the hotel and was seriously injured. He said he would have been killed if he wasn't riding on a limousine. He always made a sour face maybe because of the pain from the injury. Ully Pichardt was around 50 years of age who was engaged in the film production business on the accounting side including budget management, etc. He was a person with common sense, much easier to talk to compared with eccentric Silberman.
On October 6, Ms. Nogami and I met Silberman and Pichardt to discuss about the arrangements for contracts. Silberman looked at me as if he was facing at a young lawyer who knows nothing and explained me in detail as if he was my school teacher how movie contracts should look like. He told me he knows about movie contracts better than lawyers and does not use lawyers normally. But he said he does sometimes ask for advice of a big-name lawyer in New York who he knows and whose name he told me.
On October 8, Mr. Kurosawa, Ms. Nogami and President Shun Shibata of France Eiga-sha and I met with Silberman and Pichardt. As Mr. Kurosawa was worried about Silberman's putting a word in the contents of the movie, I confirmed that point with Silberman. He declared “Kurosawa shall have the right and responsibility with respect to the contents of the movie". Regarding another issue about Mr. Kurosawa, an overbudget problem, an agreement was reached between the parties: “In the event that budget change becomes necessary during the production of the movie in order to achieve Kurosawa's artistic purpose, Kurosawa and Silberman shall consult each other to reach a decision". Silberman was planning to fly to Los Angeles next day and would come back to Tokyo again on October 30 after visiting New York and Paris. In the meantime, I was going to wait for Silberman sending me a draft agreement which contains the above details.
In November, negotiations restarted. On November 8, I visited Silberman and Pichardt at the Imperial Hotel with Mr. Kurosawa and Ms. Nogami. The memo of that day contains something about “Tora! Tora! Tora!". I think that when Silberman was intending to carry insurance with Mr. Kurosawa the movie was brought up as a matter of concern because he was relieved from the director during the production of the film. In my file, I found a copy of a settlement agreement among between 20th Century Fox, Kurosawa Production, and Akira Kurosawa. Maybe I needed to show Silberman that the dispute relating to “Tora! Tora! Tora!" had been clearly settled.
On the night of November 8, Silberman invited Mr. Kurosawa and I was also called. In my file I found a B-4 size memo named “This Week Schedule" written by Ms. Nogami, which contains：
According to “Shokuto (restaurant guide book)" published in 1985, Ritorno Barocco was “a restaurant mainly composed of private rooms and is most suitable for a dinner with your girlfriend. Dishes are generally excellent. Unfortunately, prices of wine bottles are high and the services are uncomfortable."
I cannot recall it accurately but the members invited by Silberman and Pichardt were Kurosawa, Nogami, Kashiko Kawakita, Kazuko Kawakita, Shun Shibata, Takashi Ohashi, and me. Mr. Ohashi was the only Japanese member who belonged to U.S. Producers' Association and he spoke good English. In the center part of the table Mr. Kurosawa and Mr. Silberman sat facing each other, and the next to either of them sat Mr. Ohashi who was interpreting their conversations. I was sitting at the lowest seat, watching the brilliant banquet going on in front of me. The only thing I remember is Mr. Kurosawa talking about Kakiemon porcelain (chinaware), but the rest of my memory of the night is as vague as dream. Even though I had met and talked with Mr. Kurosawa several times before that night, it was hard to believe he was actually drinking, eating, and talking in front of me. I felt like as if I, a student who was seeing old Kurosawa movies at Shinjuku Showakan theater or Namiki-za theater in Ginza, came through the screens to a dazzling world of great masters. Although I have little knowledge about the Japanese movie industry, I think that Mr. Kurosawa existed in an exceptionally elegant and sophisticated world. Both of Kashiko and Kazuko Kawakita have passed away and Mr. Ohashi has also gone by cancer. And now, Mr. Kurosawa has passed away and it may take some time before the brilliant banquet like that night comes back to the Japanese movie world. Looking back on it now, that dinner was the happiest moment of my “Ran" related business days for over four years.
Silberman handed me three draft agreements; one relating to direction, one relating to script, and the other relating to production services. With respect to the agreement relating to direction, Silberman said it was based on the contract with Bunuel. According to Silberman, there are two types of directors: artistic type and non-artistic type. Bunuel and Kurosawa belong to the former. The agreement was later entitled “Agreement Relating to Artistic Director".
What I did first was to make Japanese translations of these three agreements. European-type agreements are much shorter compared with American-type thick documents, but still it took some time to translate them. While I was struggling with the translation of the agreements, the press conference of “Ran" was done at 3 p.m. November 19 at the Botan (peony) Room of the Imperial Hotel. The next day's newspaper says that more than one hundred press men came to the announcement and Mr. Kurosawa described Silberman as “I have finally met a real producer. If he takes the producer part, I will be able to concentrate on the director part".
After the press conference, Silberman went back to New York to have meeting with his lawyer. With respect to some of the important aspects of contracts, we had already had meetings including Mr. Kurosawa and Silberman told me he would send amended draft contract to us after consulting with his New York lawyer on those matters. Up to that time, Silberman seemed relatively tolerant relating to Mr. Kurosawa's artistic discretion rights, but he offered severe conditions with respect to Mr. Kurosawa's compensation.
There may be some artists who are like legendary wizards and who do not want money if they can enjoy the work they like, but movie directors cannot be like that. Especially, a person like Mr. Kurosawa who has his own production company must support many employees. Therefore, he cannot just stay as being an artist.
On November 18 meeting between Mr. Kurosawa and Silberman, we discussed about the economic conditions. Silberman stated that under the director agreement, a certain percentage of the net profit of the movie will be paid to Mr. Kurosawa on condition that the movie is finished within the time schedule and within the budget. Normally, such percentage would not be paid unless the movie is released and earn a certain income. But I suggest that I would pay a sizable amount of money (Silberman stated a specific amount of money) as MG at the time most of the distribution agreements are made. This is, however, a gentlemen's agreement which I shall not include in the written agreement.
On December 10, we received a revised agreement from Silberman's New York lawyer. According to the document, the percentage to be paid to Mr. Kurosawa was decreased to 2/3 of what had been agreed during the meeting. We sent a telex to the New York lawyer (at that time we did not have a fax machine yet), who told us that the figure was correct because he had confirmed it with Silberman. Soon I talked with Mr. Kurosawa and Ms. Nogami about what should be done with the situation. The decrease is apparently different from what had been orally agreed, but if we insist too much and they refuse to make the contract, it would be a total loss. Inevitably, we accepted Silberman's percentage, but we were not satisfied with it and thought about if there is anything that we can take from them instead. I thought of the above-mentioned gentleman's agreement. We were going to ask them to include it in the written agreement. As this matter divulged Silberman's words' distructness, I began to think that unless we clearly include a provision of payment in a written agreement, he would never pay any money to us. Thus, I sent a telex stating to that effect.
A few days after, the following comments came to us from the New York lawyer.
FOR MR. JUN NORISUGI
The following is my translation of the above telex message as I recall Silberman's tone.
I called Ms. Nogami and told her about the telex. She was surprised to hear my news and consulted with Mr. Kurosawa. A few hours later, she called me and said they did not want to cancel the agreement and she asked me to return a message that it was your idea. Ms. Nogami and I consulted each other and sent the following telex message:
A new year started and it was 1983. I was not fired and was exchanging telex messages with the New York lawyer with respect to the wordings of the contracts. Silberman returned to Tokyo on January 24.
In my file I found a memo describing the events occurred during February of 1983. In the memo below, K means Mr. Kurosawa, S means Silberman, N is Ms. Nogami, O is Mr. Ohashi, and P is Pichardt.
I totally forgot that I wrote such memo and most of the details I cannot recollect. I clearly remember that I had the lunch at Prunier of the Imperial Hotel on February 23 with Mr. Kurosawa and Mr. Silberman, but the details of the conversations there written on the memo are different from what I remember. According to my memory, first Silberman talked about Auschwitz and stated that he saw smoke burning people coming up from the chimney and Mr. Kurosawa contested against him saying that he saw people burnt during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. My interpretation of this story was: first Silberman talked about Auschwitz to arouse Mr. Kurosawa's interest, and then Mr. Kurosawa tried to dodge it by telling the story of the Great Earthquake. My memo reminds me that my memory is incorrect. It seems that my preconceptions against Mr. Kurosawa and Silberman somehow made my memory biased. With respect to the motive for having such a meeting, I thought I proposed it acting as peacemaker between the two, but it was not correct either. Was it a wish of Silberman or an idea of other people like Ms. Nogami or Mr. Ohashi who were between them? The only thing I can say is that their relationship was not going well and it was necessary that a person like me who is outside of the movie business going between them to settle the matter.
The paragraph of February 24 of the above memo in which Silberman asserted that Mr. Kurosawa embarrassed Pichardt during the location hunting reminds me of another scene. It was in the large meeting room of the law firm in Toranomon where I belonged, Mr. Kurosawa was talking on the phone at the corner of the room. At that time the staff of Kurosawa group was staying in Kyushu for location hunting, with whom Pichardt accompanied. I cannot recall precisely what happened but it was something like Pichardt's French way of doing business and Mr. Kurosawa's Japanese traditional way of doing business confronted each other and Pichardt was slowing down the location hunting. It was probably Mr. Ohashi who was at the other end of the phone and he was asking for Mr. Kurosawa's instructions. As I was listening, I could hear Mr. Kurosawa's breathing became rough as he talks on the phone and his voice went an octave higher. Soon his face turned red and he shouted, strongly grasping the telephone receiver as if he was going to break it. I remember that I was surprised at his power.
According to my memo, the second summit was going to be held on February 25, which I do not remember. At the end of the memo something about my “inspiration" was recorded (not a flash inspiration), which is also incorrect considering what I saw and heard later on. Silberman did not know much about Mr. Kurosawa and his feeling for Mr. Kurosawa was definitely far from admiration. I do not think he had seen many of Kurosawa movies. Some time after that, I think, Silberman once told Mr. Kurosawa that he would let him win Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Mr. Kurosawa answered unpleasantly he had win that award twice already (he received the award in 1952 for “Rashomon" and in 1976 for “Dersu Uzala"). This seemed an unexpected response for Silberman and the conversation ended there.
Although Silberman was a sorehead (quick-tempered) person, on the other hand he also liked company and liked to chat a lot. He used to say if he was to have a dinner alone at a hotel restaurant, he would rather have a cup of milk and go to bed in his room. Although I did not mind Silberman being intimate with me, I knew that he was a sly old fox, and I was cautious about him. Maybe Silberman was irritated for Mr. Kurosawa's not opening his heart to Silberman and was trying to conciliate the people around him. His target was me and Ms. Nogami. Because Ms. Nogami was not very good at speaking English, I was the person that he could easily deal with. Since I was the lawyer of Mr. Kurosawa's side, it was not good for me to be too intimate with Silberman. But if I was too cool toward him, he would get cranky. I had a hard time handling him.
If he wants to overwhelm Mr. Kurosawa, he had better approach Hisao, his eldest son, but Silberman and Hisao did not seem to get along well. Silberman complained that Hisao wore different pairs of shoes everyday, which is a small thing. Hisao san is a clever person and he might have intentionally avoided Silberman.
Anyway, “Agreement Relating to Artistic Director", “Agreement Relating to Script" and “Production Service Agreement" were executed on February 25, 1983. I thought that was the end of my work for the time being.
The preparation for production of “Ran" seemed going smoothly. My work after February became more or less detailed matters including contracts, etc. with Mr.Oguni and Mr. Ide, the joint scenario writers of the movie.
On March 23, I was invited with my wife to the 73rd birthday party of Mr. Kurosawa. In addition to Mr. Kurosawa's close movie-related friends such as Mr. Nagaharu Yodogawa and Mr. Tatsuya Nakadai, some guests from the French Embassy were also invited. It was a gorgeous and harmonious party. In the last film of Mr. Kurosawa “Not Yet", there is a scene of a birthday party of Hyakken Uchida, the leading character, which reminds me of Mr. Kurosawa's own birthday party. I think “Not Yet" is a work that Mr. Kurosawa described himself or him-wannabe-self.
Although “Not Yet" has not gained a high reputation, (maybe Mr. Yodogawa is the only one who appreciated it), I saw it twice at the movie theater (and lately I saw it again on the video) and it is one of my favorites. Once Mr. Kurosawa came to my office after the release of “Not Yet", and we had a talk (please refer to “The Seven Samurai US-Japan Cross Lawsuits" of my website). He looked delighted when I said to him that “Not Yet" was one of my favorites. In “Not Yet", there is a scene where several pupils gathered at Hyakken's house to have a drinking bout. Mr. Kurosawa said “maybe I should have used you on that scene, Mr. Norisugi". Thinking on my mind “you should have said it before, Mr. Kurosawa", I said “please do use me next time", but that is not possible any more.
During I was engaged in the work of “Ran", sometimes I moved with Mr. Kurosawa. Sometimes, we sat together at the rear seat of his Mercedes and had talks, some of which are still in my memory. Ms. Nogami was reporting to Mr. Kurosawa about the program rating of “The Seven Samurai" broadcasted on TV a few days ago. After that, we talked about an expected problem which may occur when a theater movie is televised. When I asked him “when you shoot a film, do you consider the film will be televised in the future?" he clearly denied saying “I have never considered of such a thing". At another time when I praised him for “The Most Beautiful", his work during the war time, Mr. Kurosawa merrily explained to me his memories of those days “In that movie we used many young girls and they were uncontrollable. So I made them experience community life at a factory dormitory as if they were real girls' volunteer corps. Generally speaking, this movie is not valued highly (rather than that, it is often used as a factor to attack the Mr. Kurosawa's ideological contradiction). But I think it is a masterpiece which directly expresses Mr. Kurosawa's attitude to describe pure passion (enthusiasm). Since I was a yakuza (gangster) movie fanatic (I have seen about 150 to 160 of them), I asked him how he thinks about yakuza movies. He answered promptly saying “I hate yakuzas" and explained to me tediously how dirty and mean they are. I could not get his comments on yakuza movies after all, but at a later day I found in some critic's review that Mr. Kurosawa hates yakuza movies so much that whenever he goes to Toei film studios he avoided going through any studio where they were shooting yakuza films. The next question is “why does Mr. Kurosawa respect Takeshi Kitano when he hates yakuzas so much?" I think the works of Takeshi Kitano describe yakuza life quite realistically and they look like genuine yakuza films compared to those of Toei with Koji Tsuruta or Ken Takakura (although I do not know real yakuza people).
Speaking of Ken Takakura, he was once said to be appearing in “Ran". The story of “Ran" is about Hidetora Ichimonji, played by Tatsuya Nakadai, and his three sons. The first vassal of his second son Jiro Masatora (played by Jimpachi Nezu) is called Shuri Tetsu. This role of Shuri Tetsu was eventually played by Hisashi Igawa, but at first Ken Takakura was the likely winner actor to play the role. Mr. Kurosawa is well-known for drawing detailed storyboards. One day when I visited a production room of “Ran", he showed me a piece of storyboard. It was Ken Takakura dressed as a warrior and undoubtedly Ken Takakura himself. Mr. Kurosawa told me “I will show you Ken Takakura that no one has never seen before". Maybe because conditions were not agreed by both parties, Takakura's casting as Shuri Tetsu was not realized. At a later date when I explained about that storyboard to Mr. Masato Hara who was the producer of “Ran", he said “how glad Ken san would be to hear that story because he really wanted to be on that movie".
There is one script written by Mr. Kurosawa called “Black Death Mask”, which is based on the medieval Europe where the plague was spread. Once I talked about the script with Mr. Kurosawa and Silberman. My impression was that Silberman was wishing to make a relationship with Mr. Kurosawa like his relationship with Bunuel. He was hoping to produce Mr. Kurosawa’s next work if “Ran” achieves good business results. Accordingly, we began talking about this script. Mr. Kurosawa gave us an outline of the story and said “I can hardly shoot the final death dance scene-the scene where dancers wearing death masks and death dresses perform the plague dance wildly-I have to make Mr. Fellini shoot that scene. He handed me a copy of that script (handwritten) then. I wonder if anyone would like to make the story into a motion picture in Hollywood or elsewhere, but it may cost more than “Titanic” to actually produce the film.
One last thing. There is a strange story. I cannot really remember under what situation I heard this story. I think there were Mr. Kurosawa, me and two other people, not Silberman but someone pretty close to Kurosawa like Hisao Kurosawa or Ms. Nogami. Mr. Kurosawa said “There is one movie I really want to make". He continued “But if I do make the movie, someone would kill me. If it only related to me, it's OK, but if my children or grandchildren may get hurt, I don't dare to take that picture". Then he closed his mouth. I can't remember under what sort of context this story came up, but because the story was so serious no one could ask him what that “one movie" was. There is only one taboo, I think, for which if anyone shoots a film and gets killed, but is that it? I wonder how Mr. Kurosawa wanted to express it in his film. After reading many articles written about Kurosawa, I have not discovered one which refers to the subject yet.
On March 24, Silberman sent me a telex. He said he had a very important message to give me so he wants to have a telephone conversation on March 25. Because there is an 8-hour time difference between Paris and Tokyo, he wanted me to designate a late time in Tokyo. I sent back a telex message to him asking to call me at 7 p.m. Friday Tokyo time at my office. Around that time when I was waiting for his phone call, the secretary of Silberman called me and told that he hadn't been feeling well and he'd already left office. She said she'd call again. Thereafter no telephone contact was made regarding this matter. A telex message dated March 28 stated that Silberman was visiting Tokyo from April 11 through 15 with Mr. Toscan, the President of Gaumont. In this telex, a message to Mr. Kurosawa was included; the script is still too long and he wants some writers in Paris read it and make them submit their ideas. This telex message showed no sign of peculiar events being occurred.
Nothing thereafter was filed in my file until the press conference held on April 26 to announce the postponement of the production. My notebook indicates my meeting with Mr. Kurosawa or Silberman several times during that period, which I do not recall at all. As we, international lawyers, bill our clients based on hours spent, we normally keep time sheets to record descriptions of our work and time needed therefor. Old time sheets were, however, already scrapped and I could not retrace the details. According to my notebook, I met with Silberman on April 12 and 14 so he seemed to have arrived in Japan on or around April 11 as scheduled. Probably, he told us after he arrived in Japan that he had not been able to take out the movie's production fund out of France and we had to have several discussions to cope with the situation. I was, however, invited twice for dinner with my wife by Silberman during that time (once accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Toscan) so maybe it was not such a tense situation. Mr. Toscan brought his wife who is a daughter of a famous Italian director and who looked as young as 20 years old. My wife took her to a round trip in Tokyo on April 19.
Let me explain the situation with the information I obtained from Silberman afterward. On the morning of March 25, the French Government announced its policies for currency restrictions on money to be taken out to foreign countries. Since Silberman was planning to take out about a half of the production fund of “Ran" from France, he was heavily influenced. Silberman and Gaumont tried to break the deadlock by appealing to the French Government which failed to succeed.
At 4 p.m. on April 26, the press conference was held to announce postponement of the production at the Silberman's suite of the Imperial Hotel. The following photograph was taken by Ms. Nogami(?) then. Sat in the center were Mr. Kurosawa and Silberman and I was interpreting them at their side. First I was sitting between them but a cameraman told me to get out of the way so I moved to the side.
What I was most worried about was to clearly give the impression that the postponement of production was not resulted from the contradiction of opinion between Mr. Kurosawa and Silberman but it occurred as a result of force majeure; exchange control by the French Government. Silberman was particularly worried that Mr. Kurosawa would say something unnecessary. So we had to make a written agreement on the details of the speech before the press conference. There are two documents filed in the file, namely “Statement by Mr. Akira Kurosawa” and “Statement by Mr. Silberman”, both of which have signatures of Mr. Kurosawa, Mr. Silberman (and Mr. Toscan). These statements are my handwritten documents and Silberman made his handwritten additions to his statement. Although I cannot clearly remember how we made these documents, I think I made them by coming and going between the room of “Ran” (where Mr. Kurosawa stayed) and the room of Silberman at the Imperial Hotel. The amendment made by Silberman was a correction of my writing “I shall withdraw from the production” into “I shall not withdraw from the production but temporarily postpone it”. This was the most troublesome part and we had to discuss over it to the last.
As far as Silberman is concerned, he could not withdraw from the production of the movie because he had already spent money and time. As for Mr. Kurosawa’s side, they were almost beyond the limitations of tolerance, and they were wishing that Silberman pull out of the business if he cannot provide funds. After discussions, the settlement of this problem was postponed until the end of June 1983. Both parties determined to try their best to procure funds before the deadline arrives. According to the memorandum executed at the time, Silberman had the right to procure funds at any place of the world including Japan in cooperation with Gaumont, while Kurosawa’s side had the right to raise funds in Japan only.
Nothing happened during May of 1983. There was no contact from Silberman, and Kurosawa's side was just sitting around, did nothing special to find a new fund-raiser. The movie “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence", which I was engaged, was released to the public on May 28 and I attended a party on May 20 where the author Sir Laurens van der Post was invited.
On June 15, a telex came from Silberman stating that he had sent a telegram to Mr. Kurosawa with the following content:
Ms. Nogami called me saying that Mr. Kurosawa was very upset because he was accused by Silberman for something he hadn’t done and he was going to send a telegram to Silberman immediately. In my file, a draft of the letter written by Mr. Kurosawa is filed.
On June 22, Mr. Kurosawa received a telegram from Silberman. It started with a sentence “I am sending this telegram on behalf of the name of Gaumont S.A. and Greenwich Film Production S.A.". According to Silberman, when he was talking on the phone with Mr. K which is an acquaintance of Mr. Kurosawa, Mr. K suddenly said that Mr. W, one of the colleagues of Mr. Kurosawa's son, had contacted him saying that he wanted to talk about the business of “Ran". Silberman said that Mr. K is a longtime friend and he never tells a lie and so he wrote to Mr. Kurosawa “Are you betrayed by him or did you decide to do what you want to do before July 1?"
Mr. Kurosawa referred Mr. W. and Mr. K for the above matter at once and found the following fact. On May 21, 1983, Mr. K sent a telegram to Mr. Kurosawa asking him if he had the right to remake the film “High and Low”. Mr. W responded to the telegram saying that they should first obtain an understanding from the author Ed McBain and that Mr. W would be staying in Los Angeles for one month from the middle of June and he would like to talk to Mr. McBain while he is staying in L.A.. Mr. K also sent a telegram to Mr. Kurosawa confirming the fact, where he stated:
I sent a telex to Silberman describing the above-mentioned facts, in which I included the following statement as a message from Mr. Kurosawa:
Another telex explaining the details of the above-mentioned circumstances was sent from Mr. K to Silberman and thus, this matter was revealed to be Silberman’s jump to the wrong conclusion. Silberman sent me a telex dated June 24, in which he included a message to Mr. Kurosawa. In that telex, Silberman said he could not understand why Mr. Kurosawa was angry at him and what he did was just honestly telling his thoughts to Mr. Kurosawa. Silberman further stated that it is essential for us to tell each other frankly what we are thinking in order to keep the respect and the friendship between us. This arrogant attitude of Silberman made Mr. Kurosawa even more upset and the case seemed to go even worse, far from an amicable settlement. My notebook of those days include the telephone numbers of Mr. Kurosawa’s Gotemba house, Ms. Nogami, and the hotel where Mr. Ohashi was staying. Probably I was handling the matter by making contacts to them by phone.
What came to Mr. Kurosawa's mind who had become so upset that he could not restrain his anger any more was to give a detailed explanations of the situation to Toscan, who he had thought would understand him. In my file, a draft long letter of Mr. Kurosawa addressed to Toscan which was handwritten by Ms. Nogami is filed. There was, however, a question of right or wrong as to Mr. Kurosawa's directly sending such a letter to Toscan and after all, taking the form of speaking for Mr. Kurosawa's feelings, I was asked to send a telex addressed to both of Silberman and Toscan. The details of the telex message were decided based on my draft writing after discussions with Ms. Nogami.
At the beginning of the telex message, I stated as the reasons for my sending it to both of Silberman and Toscan, that it relates to the fundamental problem of producing “Ran" and the sender's name of Silberman's June 21 telex included both of Gaumont S.A. and Greenwich Film Production S.A. Next, I summarized what had happened and clarified it was Silberman's one-sided misunderstanding. As Mr. Kurosawa's reasons for not satisfied with Silberman's explanations, I stated as follows:
I added the following sentences as words of Mr. Kurosawa.
I also stated as follows sympathizing with Mr. Kurosawa's feelings.
Besides the foregoing, we asked about the production fund of the movie; how much fund was raised in France side, what is the current situation of the French foreign exchange control law problem, etc. This telex was sent on June 28.
Although I didn't expect Silberman apologize to us obediently for his behavior, still it was clearly his fault and I imagined he would at least assume a humble attitude toward us. The next telex, however, dated June 30 contained the following details:
The contents of the telex were immediately transmitted to Mr. Kurosawa, who was surprised to receive such a response. I felt the same way. Maybe our warning had too much effect on him. The message was obviously written by a lawyer on the assumption to raise a dispute. I explained to Mr. Kurosawa that they might have thought we were planning to raise a lawsuit for defamation of character. Theoretically, of course, it is reasonable to continue the sentence “pay the money" after claiming the case cannot be settled with an apology. Our intention was to make them apologize, not just making excuses, but as a common sense outside of Japan, they may usually think if you apologize thoughtlessly, you might get charged.
After having several consultations with Ms. Nogami, we decided to stop chasing them down concerning the case but let's make them submit a clear response with respect to the production fund of the movie. Thus, I sent an inarticulate telex on July 4 and added to Silberman at the end of the message that I would call him the next day. Exchanging of documents are not satisfactory to recover the original status of the worsened relationship. You need to talk to the other person directly. I do not recall what kind of conversation I had with Silberman at that time but as a normal pattern, after listening to Silberman's grumbles for a while, I flattered him and took up the main question. Because the problem of this case was not based on fundamental contradiction of interests but rather considered as a battle of pride by great old men, my conveying one's intention to the other through suitable dramatizing would bring the matter to a settlement.
On July 18, 1983, Serge Silberman and Ully Pichardt arrived in Japan as if nothing had ever happened. In my file, there is a memo containing Silberman's schedule which says a dinner was planned with Director Nagisa Oshima during his stay until July 23.
My notebook says that I was invited to a dinner on July 18 by Silberman, which I cannot remember at all. On the next day, July 19, I went with Mr. Akira Kurosawa, Ms. Nogami and Mr. Ohashi to Room 1615 of the Imperial Hotel to have a meeting with Silberman and Pichardt. On that day, we discussed about how Silberman would engage in the production of “Ran" in the future and Silberman stated that he was going to offer a fund of $3.5 million with Gaumont. This fund was, however, to be offered under the negative pickup condition as described before and Kurosawa side was responsible for the fund until the negative film was completely finished. At the meeting, Silberman repeatedly told Mr. Kurosawa “You will be your own boss", but as usual he laid down specific requests to the details of the production as if he was the producer. One of the controversial issues was Silberman's demanding a half of a part of the producer's profits obtained as a result of domestic distribution (in Japan) which exceeds Toho's MG. For Kurosawa's side, they need to find a new sponsor because no matter how many MGs they have under the negative pick up conditions, they cannot afford the production of “Ran" with only Kurosawa's own capital. We were not sure whether such new sponsor accepts Silberman's demands or not, so we had to reserve our reply.
I think the photograph shown below is one taken at the meeting. Sat on the left is Silberman, on the sofa sat me and Mr. Kurosawa and at the right is Mr. Ohashi.
On July 22, we had a dinner with Silberman. The next photograph was taken at that time. On the left side of Mr. Kurosawa is me and on the right, Kazuko Kawakita and Takashi Ohashi. Sat in front of Mr. Kurosawa is Silberman.
As I mentioned before, at the first dinner with Mr. Kurosawa and others, I was an outsider and felt like as if I was peeking into a different world. After 8 months since then, besides I was an interpreter between Mr. Kurosawa and Silberman, I behaved myself like a person belonging to the same world with them. There was not a strange feeling that I got mixed in the world of stars but I had an illusion that I myself was a star.
Silberman who returned to Paris sent us a long telex dated July 28 in which he intended to confirm the agreement made in Tokyo. But as for us, we were not able to “agree" with Silberman because we had not found any new sponsor yet. Preconditions were different to begin with. In addition, the telex contained some matters as already-agreed facts which had not been put into discussion at the Tokyo meeting. The expressions contained in the telex had a strong nuance that Silberman was assisting Mr. Kurosawa at the request of Mr. Kurosawa. Definitely, I could not show Mr. Kurosawa such a message. After having consultation with Ms. Nogami and Mr. Ohashi, we decided to send a telex to Silberman without showing the telex to Mr. Kurosawa-if we do so there would be a big fuss again. On August 19, Silberman's response came to me as a private note. In this message he stated as follows:
Silberman's pointing out of Mr. Kurosawa as a misanthrope (Mr. Kurosawa have fear for humans, Mr. Kurosawa is afraid of humans)" hits the truth, in a way. He sometimes gets excessive self-defense. People around him know that Mr. Kurosawa is a delicate person and they do not easily convey to him what they really wish to say. If any information so concealed is conveyed to Mr. Kurosawa through any other route, he gets disappointed and feels he was deceived. After such a vicious circle the only people he can trust are his family. According to one of the rumors I heard at the time, the relationship between Mr. Hisao Kurosawa and Mr. Nogami was not going well and Mr. Kurosawa only took advice from Hisao san, and Ms. Nogami was alienated. Although it was just a groundless rumor but it was a likely story. Since Silberman did not like Hisao san, he was to make approaches to Ms. Nogami, which probably was difficult for Ms. Nogami to deal with.
Telex exchanges failed to solve the problem as to what had been agreed on during the Tokyo meeting and I was going to have a telephone talk with Silberman. Silberman requested Ms. Nogami to attend the phone conversation so we were waiting for his phone call at my office at 7 p.m. on August 24. After we had waited for two hours, there was no phone call. On the following day Silberman sent us a telex including a brusque reply telling that he was not able to make a phone call yesterday and designating a new date and time. We did not care his message but decided to send a telex conveying Mr. Kurosawa's message instead, which is; he would talk to Gaumont about the production of “Ran" after a sponsor is found, and the sponsor would directly talk with Gaumont not through Kurosawa side. As for Mr. Kurosawa, he wanted to talk with Gaumont who does not intrude too much but makes necessary payments-at least it was his thought then-without being interrupted by Silberman who puts words in and makes demands. As a reply to this telex Mr. Toscan of Gaumont sent me a telex telling me to convey a message to Mr. Kurosawa. As Toscan's position, it is impossible to carry on with the negotiations of “Ran" without Silberman.
Although I did not touch how Kurosawa side was looking for a sponsor, I was concerned about it to some extent. Few of my clients seemed to pay money for producing movies but a memory recurred to my mind that I have met Mr. Toru Okuyama, Vice President of Shochiku, when I worked on “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" directed by Nagisa Oshima. According to Ms. Nogami they had not asked Shochiku yet. I asked her “may I ask them?" and she answered “I think so" so I made a phone call. I called Mr. Okuyama, who listened to my talk and would answer me after consulting with directors. A few days later Mr. Okuyama called me back and said “We would like to assist Mr. Kurosawa but the problem is Hisao san". Again, Hisao san had unfavorable reputation here. Someone should have urged them to refuse this offer for that reason or with that excuse. I heard that “Ran" was the first movie that Hisao san has participated. Maybe people still had flashy impression on Hisao san as a TV personality then.
As my impression, I think Hisao san had excellent businessman talent. He had an agile mind and was logic. Mr. Kurosawa took a long look at an agreement which I translated and said “I am completely useless with these kinds of things" admitting that none of legal documents or sentences was put into his mind. On the other hand, Hisao san understood it quickly. A long time after that when I was engaged in settlement negotiations with Toho I had a problem which annoyed me so I asked Hisao san for advice, who instantly showed me a little forcible but clear correspondence. That correspondence was accepted. He grinned at me and said “if I were a lawyer I would be quite useful". It's just as he says. Hisao san might be suffering a loss being as a son of Akira Kurosawa.
The sponsor of “Ran" was decided beyond the concern of mine. Mr. Hisao Kurosawa talked with Mr. Katsumi Furusawa, President of Nihon Herald Picutres, and Herald group was going to offer an overall support. To put it concretely, Kabushiki Kaisha Herald Ace, a subsidiary of Nihon Herald Pictures K.K., was selected as the producer company. The president of Herald Ace was Mr. Masato Hara, who as mentioned above first introduced Director Kurosawa to me. It was only natural that Mr. Hara asked me to continue negotiations with Silberman as an agent of Herald Ace this time. Mr. Kurosawa also wanted the same way and I was more than delighted to accept the offer.
Nihon Herald Pictures was responsible for the domestic distribution of Mr. Kurosawa's “Dersu Uzala" (1975 Mos Film). Later on Nihon Herald also participated in shooting the film called “Runaway Train" in Yugoslavia, which was not realized. Some people misunderstand the company for a foreign company from its name “Herald", but it is a 100% domestically-capitalized company. I heard from someone that the company was incorporated in Nagoya where they achieved a success in the management of Japanese-style pinball games (PACHINKO), then started the movie distribution business. Herald Ace was not a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nihon Herald Pictures K.K. Mr. Hara was a owner of one third of the total shares which means that he was not just an employed president and he proceeded with this project sometimes having arguments with Nihon Herald.
Mr. Hara had discussions with Silberman on October 31 and November 1 in Paris. I was going to translate the memos Mr. Hara had made in Paris into English to get prepared for the coming meeting in Tokyo with Silberman. Making an agreement between Herald and Silberman had different kind of difficulties compared with the agreement having Mr. Kurosawa as one of the parties. Handling the agreement with Mr. Kurosawa, I tried not to let Silberman interfere in the artistic segments of the movie and to make environments that Mr. Kurosawa can make the movie in whatever way he likes. Similar problems left in the handling of the agreement with Herald, but the more important things were how we make Silberman pay money and how Herald and Silberman would recoup their money from the profits of the movie. The production budget was $10.5 million (about \2.5 billion calculated at the exchange rate at that time of $1=\240) and Silberman was responsible for paying $3.5 million in exchange for the distribution right of the film all over the world except for Japan. But as I mentioned before, the amount of $3.5 million was to be paid under the condition of negative pickup. Herald would be perplexed if the movie is completed and the negative is handed but Silberman would not pay. So Herald decided to request Silberman open an L/C at the amount of $3.5 million. By doing so, it would be assured that Herald get paid the $3.5 million from the bank after submitting the negative. On the other hand, Silberman required a bank guarantee against the Herald's whole production budget of $10.5 million, as a condition to accept opening the L/C, and also required imposing a penalty on Herald if the first delivery of the product is delayed. Silberman arrived in Japan on November 8 and I visited him at the Imperial Hotel with Mr. Satoru Izeki of Herald.
Mr. Hara, Mr. Izeki, Silberman, Pichardt and me had several meetings thereafter and Memorandum of Agreement was executed on November 25. This Memorandum of Agreement which was binding upon the parties until the official agreement was singed and contained the following details:
One thing interesting is that there was one sentence included in the Agreement which is: “Mr. Silberman will have no difficulty in discussing with Mr. Akira Kurosawa on any problem of artistic point of view including the music". I have a doubt whether or not it has any legal meanings but I do remember that the sentence was inserted by strong request from Silberman.
I kept the signed Memorandum of Agreement for a while, and one copy of the original Agreement was handed to each of the parties after Silberman's New York lawyer confirmed the contents. The final official agreement was to be executed after final negotiations in New York. Mr. Hara was busy preparing for the movie so I was flying over to New York with Mr. Hara's power of attorney. I made a draft of the official agreement based on Memorandum of Agreement and sent it to Silberman on December 15. After a while Silberman sent us his comments by telex, in which he asserted that the terms relating to the written confirmation by the bank securing Herald's holding a fund of $10.5 million were different to those contained in Memorandum of Agreement. Every single word of the sentences in the official agreement I made was the same as that of Memorandum of Agreement, and I reported so to Silberman. I had a bad premonition. The press conference announcing the joint production by Herald and Greenwich of “Ran" was splendidly held on December 12. Both of Mr. Kurosawa and Mr. Hara were devoting all their energies toward making the movie, considering that the agreement had been practically concluded.
The schedule of my trip to New York was settled from January 15 through 19, 1984. In January, I became busy with several meetings to prepare for the trip. At that time, the expected schedule of the production and release of “Ran" was as follows:
I had a meeting on January 12 with Mr. Hara and Mr. Izeki. One thing Mr. Hara was worried about was that he had been talking to the parties concerned on condition that the whole details of Memorandum of Agreement signed on November 25 would be incorporated into the official agreement, so if there would be any changes, it might damage his reputation. It was particularly important that the $3.5 million to be offered by Greenwich has bank guarantee. Without the bank guarantee, the bank would not lend money to Herald nor distribution agreement with Toho or broadcasting right agreement with Fuji TV would be executed. On the night of January 12, I called Silberman and conveyed Mr. Hara's message. Silberman promised not to change the contents of Memorandum of Agreement and the bank guarantee would be obtained before the end of February.
Mr. Izeki was going to New York with me. Silberman introduced us his regular stay The Pierre where we could stay at a discount rate. We departed from Narita on the afternoon of Sunday Jan. 15th and arrived at New York in the morning of that day. The Pierre was a high-class hotel with an European external appearance from where we can overlook Central Park. After taking a rest, we went to the office of Moskowitz, Silberman's lawyer. Moskowitz' office was relatively large in scale with approximately 200 to 300 lawyers and the office was located in a large building facing to Park Avenue. Moskowitz was a man with Gorbachev-looking appearance who had been a longtime acquaintance with Silberman. He had a large Swiss pharmaceutical company as one of his major clients so he discounted Silberman's work. According to what is recorded in my notebook, I had a meeting next day from 9 a.m. until about 10 p.m., telephoned Mr. Hara in Tokyo, made a draft amendment of the agreement and went to bed at midnight.
The first thing which surprised me was that the details of draft official agreement delivered to Moscowitz were substantially different from those of Memorandum of Agreement. With respect to the bank guarantee of $3.5 million, it was stated that Herald should submit a bank guarantee of $10.5 million for her to obtain such $3.5 million guarantee. Under Memorandum of Agreement, Herald was only required to submit a balance certificate for the amount of $10.5 million. Moscowitz asserts, however, that it is totally meaningless to have such an amount at Herald's bank account instantaneously. The logic is definitely true. But this project was going to be executed by Herald undertaking all the responsibilities for the risks as the practical production company, to start with. Therefore, as our opinion, we asserted that a party in such position should not be required to submit even a balance certificate. With respect to other parts we could eventually reach a final form after exchanging drafted documents, but this Herald's bank guarantee issue was complicated to the end. On Tuesday 17th, the final day of negotiations, we had meetings at Moskowitz' office until the evening, and after having dinner (I remember we had a gorgeous room service dinner at Silberman's suite) we had final negotiations at the suite. In addition to me, Silberman, and Mr. Izeki, a young Japanese American associate from Moskowitz' office joined us. It was nearly midnight when Silberman finally accepted the idea of Herald's only submitting a balance certificate and the bank guarantee is not necessary. We confirmed the associate wrote down his words and then went back to our rooms.
As our flight to Tokyo was planned to depart New York a little after noon of 18th, the next day, I visited Moskowitz' office with Mr. Izeki early in the morning. They must have worked overnight and the amended agreement was prepared. Without any time to take a glance of the agreement, we started the meeting with Silberman and Moskowitz, where several discussions were raised regarding several matters including the insurance, etc. and the negotiations lasted just barely in time for the flight departure. During the negotiations, as I had an impression that the other party was unreliable, I was reading the agreement from the last page while attending the discussions because I doubted a device being made to the agreement (for example, new terms might secretly be added to the latter part of the agreement where it is inconspicuous). But with many new issues being brought up, I could not get concentrated and before seeing through all of the agreement my time was up. At last, they asked me whether or not the contents of the agreement were acceptable, and I replied that I cannot sign the document without confirmation from Herald Pictures and Herald Ace. Although I had the power of attorney from them, the details were changed so much that I could hardly sign it. After all, Silberman and I signed our initials to the draft of the agreement, and Moskowitz' office will keep it until the confirmations from all the parties concerned are obtained.
It kept snowing heavily throughout our stay in New York and we were worried about if the airplane could take off. I was poor at that time and I wore a ten-thousand-yen overcoat I bought at a bargain sale of a department store, which did not keep me very warm. Hung next to Silberman's 500-thousand-yen overcoat (according to Mr. Nogami) it looked quite shabby. Worrying about the time of the flight Mr. Izeki and I took a taxi to the airport.
On the way home from the business trip I was relaxed. On the way to New York, I feel like an athlete facing the game, expecting what kind of approaches the opponent would take and thinking of strategy to deal with the situation. There are written agreements and other materials to read, there is no time to get drunk. But on the way back, especially when I've done a good job, I can feel comfortable and enjoy a feeling of satisfaction.
I was drinking vodka on the rocks, vacantly thinking of the schedule after returning to Tokyo. Mr. Izeki who sat next to me was a decent man and was reading the agreement. “Norisugi sensei, this part has not been corrected right, has it?", Mr. Izeki said pointing at Article 4 of the agreement.
Stated there was a sentence “Herald shall submit a bank guarantee for the amount of $10.5 million". “What!! Is this the agreement we've got this morning?" The date of the agreement was January 18, 1984. It is the agreement. After those hard discussions last night Silberman said the balance certificate was OK, but the document was not corrected at all.
Although I said “This must be some kind of mistake. They just forgot correct the sentence", I felt uneasy because the other party is Silberman. I regretted why I had not confirmed that most important part first, but it was too late. The relaxing return flight suddenly became a heavy one and I thought that I wanted to return Tokyo as soon as possible to clear up the problem. But when you are unlucky, you are thoroughly unlucky. The flight captain announced that it was heavily snowing around Narita and the plane was heading toward Nagoya.
We stayed overnight at Nagoya, returned Tokyo, and sent a telex to Moskowitz immediately only to receive his reply saying that he cannot answer our question because he cannot reach the client. In the meantime, we found out that Silberman was visiting Tokyo, so I decided to directly confirm him. On January 26, I met Silberman at the Imperial Hotel but he got away from me saying that he cannot do anything without advice from his lawyer. On February 1, Moskowitz sent us a reply only stating that until the changes are agreed, the agreement confirmed in New York would survive. It was utterly helpless. Furthermore, they say that the balance certificate we prepared after consultation with Sumitomo Bank is insignificant. They asserted that at least “an amount of $10.5 million should be ready for Herald to use for the production of the movie at any time". After that, we exchanged many telexes and at each time they changed requests, asserting that the balance certificate should be satisfactory and acceptable to French Bank and The French Centre de Cinema (which I heard was an committee who gives authorization on international joint productions), etc. We had to make further consultations with Sumitomo Bank each time they made a new request.
At the end of February (this year there were 29 days in February) we finally reached an agreement with respect to the wording of the letter to be issued by Sumitomo Bank (instead of the balance certificate) and the issue was settled for the time being. But I could not restrain my anger any more when I found the part blaming Herald's delay for correspondence in the overbearing telex from Moskowitz dated march 1 demanding unreasonable demands relating to insurance, etc. They asserted that the reason for all the delays came from the fact that Herald could not obtain the bank assurance in accordance with the conditions of the agreement agreed in New York, and therefore they had to offer alternate ideas many time through consultations with France Bank or the French authority. The next day, I sent a telex to Moskowitz writing that I felt anger against his words as a private person. I described the details of our negotiations on the night of January 17 with Silberman and told that we had no time to review the agreement the next morning. I further stated that the reason why Moskowitz refused to reply and never answered to our request openly to confirm Silberman with the details of the agreement made on the night of January 17 is because he himself understood what had been agreed. I said this attitude was opposed to what Silberman used to say: discuss openheartedly. For these messages, two lawyers who attended the negotiations with Moskowitz (one of them was the Japanese American lawyer who was at the meeting with Silberman on January 17) sent me a telex asserting that I must have understood the contents when I initialed the agreement on the morning of January 18. Although I felt persistent but again I sent a telex to these two lawyers and asked (1) what was the oral agreement made on the night of January 17 at Silberman's suite?, and (2) if the oral agreement was different from the contents of the agreement prepared on the following day, what is the reason? To this question, each person sent me a reply respectively. The Japanese American lawyer who attended the meeting wrote that when he made the agreement, it had accurately reflected the agreement made on the night before that day. But since the negotiations were made late at night, there might have been a mistake of memory. I judged that it was time to end the battle so I sent a telex to the two lawyers stating that I was satisfied with the replies from them and that I would not pursue the question any more, especially I did not mean to make the attended Japanese American lawyer get into trouble.
Some people might think that my arguing with the other party's lawyers with respect to the already historic fact was superfluous or rather harmful because the issue to decide bank guarantee or balance certificate had been already solved. But looking back the whole longtime negotiations, the anger I showed to them (I was actually angry) was more or less meaningfull. Again let me presume what had actually occurred. I think that Japanese American lawyer tried to accurately reflect on the agreement what had been agreed upon by the parties on the night of January 17. But Moskowitz saw him do so and advised Silberman not to compromise with respect to the bank guarantee, which made Silberman reconsider about it. At this point, Silberman should have told us that he wanted to withdraw what he had said the day before. He and Moskowitz, however, did not do so and submitted to us the agreement with the terms and conditions left on the form consistent with their assertion as their final agreement. They would have restarted the discussions from the beginning if we had noticed it but we did not notice it. So they thought they gained an advantage and started an aggressive negotiation.
I thought if the details of what had been agreed on the night of January 17 are clarified, all the problems would be solved and asked them to confirm them. But they cleverly avoided the issue of “what had been agreed" and asserted from the standpoint that what is written on the agreement should be what has been agreed. Why did they take such an attitude? If they asserted that the bank assurance was agreed not only in the expressions in the agreement but in the discussions of the night before, which were preconditions of the agreement, their assertion is consistent. But in this kind of assertion, they are clearly lying. It is, however, difficult to prove which party is telling a lie in a discussion without involving a third party. The only evidence of what was agreed is the written agreement on which both parties generally confirmed and initialed on the next morning. If this issue is judged by a Japanese court and neither of the parties holds its ground and asserts the other is telling a lie, our position would be quite weak. One of the major differences between the U.S. and the Japanese trial procedures is that they have a system called “Discovery" in the U.S. system. By applying Request for Production of Documents, one procedure of Discovery, a party may request the other to submit any documents relating to the dispute and which are possessed by the other party. The documents to be submitted include a memo so the Japanese American lawyer's meeting memo should be submitted. Thus, telling a lie when you think about the possibility of a future lawsuit in the U.S. it is very dangerous. They should have thought about this point before deciding their steps.
It was lucky for me that the Japanese American lawyer who attended the January 17 meeting directly contacted me. Talking with Moskowitz, who did not attend the meeting, was useless, and the one Mr. Silberman runs away from me leaving everything to his lawyer. It was going round in circles. The Japanese American lawyer precisely recorded what had been discussed at that night, who could not get away saying that he did not know anything. Nor was he in such a position that could refuse reply by leaving everything to his attorney. Therefore, his reply lacks punch in his agony. I thought I gained a point over him. As for my position, they would not underestimate me in any future negotiations after pursuing to that far. I guess I achieved my purpose for the time being.
Many problems occurred one after another and fighting discussions continued. In March, Mr. Hara and I decided to fly to Paris to have discussions with Silberman to settle the piled up problems all at once. But just before our departure, Moskowitz sent us a telex stating that Silberman would not say a single word relating to legal matters without me. He also stated that to have him attend the meeting, Herald needed to immediately transfer an amount of $15,000 for his consideration and cost. We felt utterly scandalized at what he had proposed so Mr. Hara was going to Paris alone to have discussions with Silberman. Results of these discussions were confirmed in May as the first amended agreement of the joint production agreement.
The agreement of “Ran" was all tangled just like the meaning of its title, but Mr. Kurosawa was released from such troubles and the film-shooting of the movie “Ran" began on June 2. During June, scenes were mainly shot in Kurosawa Film Studio. On June 21, Mr. Izeki called me asking if I wanted to appear in “Ran" on Saturday June 23. He said it's one of the followers of Jiro Ichimonji (acted by Jimpachi Nezu) and the role should be acted by a slightly old guy. Herald Ace was asked to gather the followers and some employees was going to attend including Mr. Izeki. On the page of June 23 of the production journal in “Record of the movie “Ran" directed by Akira Kurosawa ‘85" issued by Herald Ace, details are described as follows:
After the film shooting, I had beer with Mr. Izeki and others at a restaurant in Kurosawa Film Studio and then went to the staff room with Mr. Izeki to greet Mr. Kurosawa before leaving the studio. It was the last day of the studio film shooting and staffs were preparing for the closing party. Mr. Kurosawa asked me “why don't you join us for a drink?" so I decided to stay.
Director Mr. Inoshiro Honda (who is well-known for the director of the movie “Godzilla" and attended “Ran" as the assistant director) told me to sit next to Mr. Kurosawa. The group surrounding Mr. Kurosawa included gorgeous members such as Takao Saito (cameraman), Yoshiro Muraki (art), Fumio Yanoguchi (recording), etc. Later on two main stars, Jimpachi Nezu and Mieko Harada joined us and sat in front of Mr. Kurosawa.
The party soon became a solo performance of Mr. Kurosawa and everyone was listening respectfully to him. The story was now about the orders. He talked about the orders he had awarded so far. After he had finished talking about the third order, he told us a story about his visit to an Eastern European country where he was invited to a party. The government of that country told Kurosawa san to wear to the party all the orders he had received. He laughed saying that if he puts that many orders on him, it would be too heavy. Then, I imagined Mr. Kurosawa wearing a chest full of orders and suddenly realized that Kurosawa san had not talked about how many orders he had been awarded in total. I suspected that Kurosawa san is a humble person and he just mentioned only three out of the great deal of orders he had awarded. I considered that Kurosawa san was really wanted to say the true number of the orders he had been awarded and someone should ask him how many. Everyone was sitting there quietly just listening to what he was saying, and I was the only one who could ask him such a question (which might please him), I thought. So, when it was the right time I asked him “How many orders have you received so far?"
Mr. Kurosawa looked surprised for a moment and mumbled “three". After saying so, he added “I have received many honorary doctorates and that kind from various universities" as if patching things up for the moment.
It was apparent that Mr. Kurosawa got upset. His solo performance continued but at the end of the party when someone from the outfield bleachers (maybe one of the young staff) asked a question about the future of Japanese movies he shouted loudly “don't give me such kind of stupid question!"
In the first amended agreement of the joint production agreement, we were changing Greenwich's fund offering timing. Originally, Greenwich was going to offer $3.5 million under the condition of so-called negative pickup, and Herald was going to receive the amount in exchange for the negative film of the movie. Under the amended agreement, Greenwich was going to pay $1 million out of the $3.5 million as an advance payment, $250,000 at the start of the film shooting, $250,000 each at the ends of the 10th and 21st weeks, and $250,000 upon completion of the film shooting. Although this change was welcomed by Herald, Greenwich had also increased the amount to be collected from Herald, so neither party made a one-sided compromise.
The film shooting of “Ran" began on June 2, 1984. Silberman attended the shooting at Kurosawa Film Studio. I sent a telex to Greenwich under the name of Mr. Hara notifying the start of the shooting and asking them to make remittance of the first $250,000. But instead of the $250,000, we received from Silberman a long telex demanding Mr. Hara various kinds of things. The major claims by Silberman were related to technical matters such as budget, credits, insurance, contracts with actors, etc. What he insisted most was that the agreement between Greenwich and Herald was a joint production agreement and not a purchase agreement of a movie. From that standpoint, Silberman demanded the same level of status as Mr. Hara and asserted that he has the equal rights as those owned by Mr. Hara as the joint producer. If it were before the change of the joint production agreement, Mr. Hara could say that the agreement's name was a joint production but it was actually a purchase agreement, but after Greenwich took a risk and paid $ 1 million in advance, the story was not that simple anymore. The problem of whether this is a joint production or a purchase was a cause for both producers' confrontation from time to time during the course of the production of “Ran".
After all, Greenwich's remittance was made a month behind the deadline and the production of “Ran" proceeded still involving many unsolved problems.
Mr. Kurosawa and staff arrived in Himeji on June 30 after finishing the first half of the shooting at the set and started Himeji Castle location shoot. After that Mr. Kurosawa and staff went to Iida Highlands, Kokonoe machi, Kusu gun, Oita Prefecture via Kumamoto. Iida Highlands was one of the major locations of “Ran" where a war scene was planned to be taken using some 1000 extras.
In July, Mr. Izeki called me again and asked if I was interested in going down to Kyushu to see the location. He said Herald would pay the cost so I was happy to accept the offer. On Monday July 16, when we arrived at Kumamoto Airport, a microbus was waiting there, where Mr. Hitoshi Ueki and Mr. Jun Tasaki were on. Mr. Ueki's role was Nobuhiro Fujimaki,a feudal lord of the neighbor region of Hidetora, and Mr. Tasaki's role was Seiji Ayabe, another feudal lord of the neighbor region. A young man of Sanjuki No Kai joined us and we were headed to Iida Highlands. This young man had injured his leg during the rehearsal and were going through medical treatment. Now his injury recovered completely, he was now returning to the location. During a two-hour journey, we enjoyed the comic dialogue of Mr. Ueki and Mr. Tasaki.
After checking in Kokonoe Kanko Hotel, without taking a rest, we went to the location site. Scene no. 55 was being taken on that day. At a corner of a craggy place against a background of the grand Iida Highlands, the picture was being taken. Mr. Kurosawa was sitting on a scaffold and several hundreds of people were moving around him busily. The scene number 55 is a scene where Hidetora is bewildered after being thrown out by Taro and Jiro and wandered about and could find no place to go. Following Hidetora were Kageyoshi Ikoma (Kazuo Kato), his chief vassal, a clown Kyoami (Peter) and a few followers. There came Tango Hirayama (Masayuki Yui), a chief retainer who was previously banished by Hidetora with Saburo, and suggested him to go to Fujimaki's place where Saburo was staying. Against such suggestion, Ikoma who later betrays Hidetora raised an objection because he thought it was Fujimaki's intrigue. Although the location was done at the highland, the sunlight was strong and I suppose the actors who were acting at a dry and white sandy place had had a hard time. Especially, looking at the face of Tatsuya Nakdai who wore heavy make-up, I doubted if he was able to use his skin for respiratory exchange. It seemed that the rehearsals were done and Ms. Nogami who was sitting next to Mr. Kurosawa was looking up at the sky to determine when to start the performance. But the weather was unsettled that day and soon the sky was covered with dark clouds and suddenly it started pouring down. Everyone went inside the tent and waited for the rain to stop, taking their lunch. Shortly after that, the rain had stopped and I thought the shooting was going to begin but they announced that the day was ended. The reason was because the wet white sand would look black. I saw the hard aspect of shooting a film.
I exchanged a few words with Mr. Kurosawa and it might be a mistaken notion of mine but he was distant toward me. I was worried about the matter of the orders and I linked Mr. Kurosawa's attitude with it but when you think about it, there was completely no need for Mr. Kurosawa to pay me compliments at the location site. The film director of the location site was someone like a general of the army during the war, and I was literally nothing but a visitor.
All the staff was told to go to the dining room to have dinner together so we went to the designated place. According to my memory, we went outside of the hotel and entered into another building to go to the designated dining room, but taking a look at the data now, it was the dining room of Yamanami Lodge where Director Kurosawa stayed. I went toward the dining room with Akira Terao (who played Taro) and Daisuke Ryu (who played Saburo) and I recall that we climbed over a fence with them to take a shortcut. The dining room was chartered (reserved) and there were many long tables lined up. Ms. Nogami was waiting for us and invited me to the end of the table of Mr. Kurosawa. The table could accommodate 7 or 8 people on each side. Mr. Kurosawa sat on the center seat on the window side, Peter sat right to him and Mr. Nakadai sat left to him. Mr. Ueki, Mr. Tasaki, and Director Inoshirou Honda sat across the table and the rest of the staff I don' remember. I recall Mr. Kazuo Kato who played Ikoma sat next to me. Mr. Kurosawa talked a lot and Peter was taking care of him as if he was a hostess. Most of the talks that Mr. Kurosawa made were anecdotes related to his old films such as “Shichinin no Samurai", etc., many of which I knew for some reason. I had not heard such talks directly from Mr. Kurosawa and I stopped to think about it. The stories were written in his book “Gama no Abura ? Jiden no Youna mono". One thing interesting was that whenever Mr. Kurosawa gave a talk, the first person to give a large laugh was always Mr. Nakadai as if he had been prepared. I suppose Mr. Nakadai had listened such talks for over hundreds of times, but what in the world was that dynamic laugh? Mr. Kurosawa did not seemed to care about Mr. Nakadai's fake performances and continued his talks cheerfully.
Mr. Kurosawa drank many glasses of “Iichiko" Shochu which he had found in Kumamoto (Iichiko is now well-known throughout the country but at that time it was not). The party did not seem to come to an end forever. Eventually the party which looked endless came to an end and the attendants went back to their lodges in threes and fives. I stayed there until there were few left, where I watched an interesting scene. Mr. Nakadai walked up to Ms. Nogami and said “Nogami-san, would you ask Mr. Kurosawa to finish the party a little earlier?" Ms. Nogami looked annoyed and murmured “But Mr. Kurosawa is---“. Mr. Nakadai said “It is OK with Mr. Kurosawa because he gets up late, you see, but it takes three and a half hours for me to do my makeup. I have to get up early to do the makeup. My body cannot survive such a hard schedule".
What a hard task the occupation of an actor is!
Production of a movie is commonly associated with accidents. Actually, on the night of the party at Yamanami Lodge described in the above Chapter 14, Peter tore the upper part of his Achilles' tendon in his room at Kokonoe Kanko Hotel and was hospitalized in the Oita Prefectural Hospital, which delayed the film shooting for ten days. I think I did not touch this kind of problem but my file contains a memo relating to the settlement of the injury an actor suffered (who was acting as a cavalry warrior) during the shooting. With respect to Peter's case, they did not ask for my advice.
The relationship with Silberman itself still contained problems as before and we exchanged telexes frequently. We all tried to protect Mr. Kurosawa from being revealed to such troubles, while Mr. Hara was to take care of both the production site and the contract, which should have been a hard task. It is rare that agreements relating to production of movies are completed before beginning of the shooting such as the case of “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence". Even the agreement is executed there may arise many problems once the shooting of the film is started which would force us to make amendments.
Maybe American lawyers specialized in movies know the practices of movie productions, but although I was a movie fan, I was totally an amateur with respect to the movie making practices. I am ashamed to confess that when I first met with Mr. Kurosawa and Ms. Nogami, Ms. Nogami said “we are now going to LOKEHAN (location hunting)" and I asked her “do you do the location so soon?" which made her look annoyed. Needless to say, the word LOKEHAN is an abbreviated word for “location hunting", which means searching for an appropriate place for location. In addition to the large-scale agreements such as joint production agreement as I described above, there are several kinds of ancillary agreements relating to producing of movies. Since “Ran" was a joint foreign-Japanese film, an international lawyer like me was involved, but with respect to the production of movies with which no foreign companies or sponsors are related, it is the production company staff who make the agreements. In many cases official agreements are rarely executed but only verbal understandings are exchanged, to begin with. In the case of “Ran", I was involved to take care of all the agreements including very small ones in order to avoid Silberman giving us complaints afterwards. For example, many horses were used during the film shooting of “Ran", out of which 50 horses were imported quarter horses. An agreement was executed with a ranch in Oita relating to the handling and feeding of the horses. With respect to the agreement, there was an accident where an imported horse was mistaken for a domestically raised horse, which resulted in dispute. In addition to that, there were many jobs I was engaged such as preparing an agreement with Tokyo Concerts where Mr. Toru Takemitsu, the composer of the film music of “Ran" belonged, making a registration of the scrip of “Ran" to U.S. Copyright Bureau, etc. The biggest issue, however, was the agreement with a French processing laboratory.
As I have already stated, the joint production agreement of “Ran" was basically made under the condition of negative pickup. That is, Silberman will pay the money in exchange of Herald delivering the negative of the movie. This is a simple transaction just like when you buy something at a shop, you receive the goods in exchange for paying the money. When the goods are visible, however, the buyer pays the money without anxiety (e.g. an apple without a bruise), but in the case of a movie you cannot tell what kind of movie it is even if you saw the movie unless you are a professional. To determine whether or not the film contains what had been promised between the parties (relating to the quality of it let alone the artistic nature thereof) , a specialist is needed to judge the contents. When the negative pickup is used as a condition, a processing laboratory is the specialist who makes such a judgment.
Although the film shooting was proceeding very smoothly, there were some delays and they could not keep the deadline, the end of March. We gave up entering in 1985 Festival de Cannes, and due to several other reasons we had to make some more additional amendments of the joint production agreement. On April 1, “1985 Amended Agreement" was executed. For all that, the movie was completed with only a short delay considering the usual delay by Mr. Kurosawa and the movie was going to be released nationwide on June 1. The following photograph was taken at the premiere.
Now that the movie was completed, we still had a lot of problems to go through until the overseas version is delivered to Silberman. In June, Mr. Hara flew to Paris to have negotiations with Silberman and reached an agreement on further amendments to the joint production agreement. The amended draft of the agreement which Moskowitz later sent to us contained, however, substantially different details from what had been agreed. After exchanging several telex messages, the matters remain unsettled so I had to fly to Paris with Mr. Hara.
On Tuesday, August 20, I was on JAL Flight No. 425 which departed at 21:30 and arrived at Paris at 7:25 of the next day. In Paris we stayed at an elegant hotel where Mr. Hara normally stays and which is also near Silberman's office. When we visited Silberman at his office, the first thing he said to us was “I would like to offer my condolences to you with respect to the JAL accident the other day". It was on August 12 when JAL airplane crashed into Osutaka Yama. Silberman was a man of consideration.
Ully Pichardt was also in the office of Silberman, and the four of us discussed again and again but could reach no settlement. In particular, the biggest problem was a contract with the GENZOUSHO mentioned above. The genzousho designated by Silberman was apparently on the side of Silberman, who requested us with Silberman very hard conditions. At one time, we consulted with Mr. Hara if we should ask for arbitration to Paris Arbitration Committee, which situation we could avoid and we reached an agreement after making a large concession. We flew back to Japan on JAL 428 on August 24.
One thing interesting about Paris was that I met with Director Nagisa Oshima. It seems that Silberman decided Oshima as his next business partner after Kurosawa, and he was going to produce Oshima's next film “Max Mon Amour". It was the first time in three years that I met with Mr. Oshima after “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" was completed (except that maybe we have met at some parties during that time) and we talked about the old days.
Mr. Oshima was talking with Silberman in his fluent English and Silberman was giving comments to Oshima san's scripts. Although I could not catch the detailed contents, Silberman was giving Oshima san an advice “if you correct this part, it would be much better", and Oshima san was nodding at his advice with a smile. Then, I noticed that Mr. Oshima at that time was completely different from who we saw in Japan. When he is in Japan, he is a controversialist and a fighter who had an appearance to deny all kinds of authorities and powers. But in front of Silberman, Mr. Oshima looked like an old teacher's favorite student who is doing well at school. He did not look dashing as usual. His finished movie lacked punch, and he ended up taking a long vacation before he came back with “Gohatto".
In the morning of Sunday September 13, 1998, I went to the Imperial Hotel to pick up lawyer Graubart and his family. On that day, the farewell ceremony for Mr. Kurosawa was going to be held from 2 p.m. at Kurosawa Film Studio in Yokohama. Jeffrey Graubart (we called him Jeff) had been engaged in the business with Kurosawa production since around 1990, and we were taking contacts each other almost everyday during the lawsuit period with Toho and MGM (Please refer to “Shichininno Samurai" Japan-U.S. lawsuits battles). At the time around 1998, Jeff's second son Joshua was studying at a Japanese university, and Jeff and his wife had decided to attend Director Kurosawa's farewell ceremony in addition to visiting their son.
The journey to Kurosawa Film Studio was: take Hibiya line, Toyoko line, and Yokohama line and get off at Tokaichiba and then ride on the bus dispatched from Kurosawa Production. The bus trip was supposed to be about ten minutes, but the road was crowded with the cars of attendants to the funeral, and it took longer than I thought. There was a long line of ordinary attendants to Kurosawa Film Studio from where we got off the bus. Men and women of all ages were waiting for the funeral to start in the lingering summer heat. Although I was supposed to be a guide, I did not know where to go and wandered around. Vittorio Dare Ole, the assistant to the director of “Ran" found us and beckoned us.
Kurosawa Film Studio was already filled with invited people (according to what had been reported by newspapers, approximately 5000 people) and the huge space looked like a medieval European cathedral. Large panels of still photos of Kurosawa films were put up on the wall and some happy old music such as the theme music of “Shichinin no samurai" was produced. In the altar set up the central front, a special room was made plated with gold, imitating “Golden Room" of “Ran". To the left were four trophies exhibited, the tropies of Grand Prix of Festival de Cannes, Honorary Prize of Academy, the order of Culture, and D.W. Griffith Prize.
After the messages of condolences were made, I stood in a long line of offerings of flowers, greeted Hisao Kurosawa and Kazuko Kurosawa and was going to leave when Mr. Hara who was putting things away as one of the sponsors came to me and said “Long time no see, how have you been?" Then, Mr. Izeki gave me his card and said “I'm currently engaged in this kind of business. I will call you later" (Mr. Izeki was a president of a film company). Mr. Hara's company name has been changed from Herald Ace to Asmic Ace. For myself, I have established my own law office. Ten years have surely been passed.
With its gloomy theme “Ran" has not gained very high reputation compared with other Kurosawa films, but I think the perfection of “Ran" almost stands at the highest point of Kurosawa's art. People often evaluate movies from their themes or stories, but I guess what movie directors or other creative staff engaged in film making concentrate their efforts are on more detailed points. The perfectionism of such detailed parts would increase the overall perfectionism of the movie itself. In that sense, every part of “Ran" shows Mr. Kurosawa and staff's talent and passion which makes us as if looking at a two and a quarter hour long picture. Someday the film will be reevaluated.