Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bits and Pieces 11: Gorgon Rage


I don't care who they get to direct a live action version of Akira, I won't be seeing it. Ever. The track record for American renditions of Japanese anythings has gone down a shitty hillside since The Magnificent Seven. And some films that come out of Japan, or novels or comic books and animated anythings, shouldn't be touched by any American film companies, because they won't get it. Two such things are Gojira and Akira. Why? Both of these works are anti-nuclear weapons and anti-nuclear warfare type stories that no one can really do other than the Japanese as they are the only ones to be on the receiving end of a nuclear weapon. It's just how it is. You cannot take something like Gojira and slap some nice CGI paint on it, throw in a few semi-name actors and come out on the end doing the original 1954 film any justice whatsoever. That's how we ended up with Godzilla in 1998 or whenever. It just doesn't work. There was NO real strong voice for the sentiment of anti-nuclear anything in that movie, and it became a silly little romance that had Matthew Broderick chasing a giant mutated iguana around New York City. And somewhere along the line it became a rejected sequel to Jurassic Park; and it all became the French's fault.

You see in the 1954 film, the original Japanese version without Raymond Burr's totally awesome performance (re: sarcasm), it was a note on how ALL mankind needs to avoid this sort of technology when it comes to warfare. In the 1998 Americanized version, it became: THE FRENCH DID IT, 'CAUSE THEY'RE WEIRD AND THEY'RE PUSSIES. It was a hollow piece of fiction with stupid jokes, lame effects, and no real statement behind it. Which a lot of the Gojira films eventually became, but not the original that this one was supposed to be "retelling."

Then you have Katsuhiro Otomo's masterpiece: Akira.

Akira is pure Japanese fiction, even to the point where it addresses that frustration of the Japanese people during US occupancy post WWII. It's not a very American friendly book in the United States sense of the term. Trying to retell this story with American sensibilities in mind won't ever work, because it will, again, fall flat and become a completely hollow thing with lots of CGI. Setting it in Neo New York and centering it around the 9/11 disaster, as I've heard it was intending to do, doesn't work because no matter how you look at it, the September 11th tragedy, while being awful, does not compare in any way, shape or form to what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Altering the relationship of the two characters, Tetsuo and Kaneda, from being friendly to familial lessens to meaning of those characters' relationship. Hiring all white actors to portray something that is uniquely Japanese also weakens the material, regardless of who they are or how talented they may be.

The only way I'd watch a live action version of this story is if it was told from an entirely Japanese perspective. Japanese director, like Ryuhei Kitamura or Takashi Miike or even Katsuhiro Otomo himself for instance, with an all Japanese cast (save the few American characters that appear in the massive comic book), and so on and so forth. Watching an Americanized version of this picture would be like watching a Japanese movie about our Civil War, or the Declaration of Independence even, with an all Japanese cast while being refitted to fit in Japanese society. It wouldn't work. Just stay away from it.

I don't have a decent closing to this blog. I'm too tired.

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