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Akira Kurosawa’s Unmade Edgar Allan Poe Adaptation Will Finally Be Filmed

Akira Kurosawa’s Unmade Edgar Allan Poe Adaptation Will Finally Be Filmed

How would the director of The Seven Samurai pull off a feature film based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story? That’s the kind of hypothetical shared in film student fantasies, but it appears we may be on track to see a result of sorts. Akira Kurosawa may no longer be with us, but his script for The Mask of the Black Death, which resets Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” in 20th-century Russia and develops the story even further. Had the Japanese master filmmaker not succumbed to a stroke when he did, it might have been his final film.

If you’re not familiar with the story, which involves a lethal plague and death himself coming to dinner, you could read it…but we recommend letting Christopher Lee read it to you.

There was also famously a 1964 Roger Corman version starring Vincent Price (see image above)…

…which Corman had remade in 1989 with Highlander‘s Adrian Paul.

It is probably safe to say Kurosawa had a more serious take in mind. Via Indiewire, we’ve learned that the Chinese Global Times broke the story that Kurosawa’s screenplay “will be produced by Chinese film studios Huayi Brothers and CKF Pictures and hit the big screen in 2020.” This has me as excited as I was for Stanley Kubrick’s A.I. to finally get made; while the reaction to that was mixed, I’m one of the defenders who still thinks the final product was remarkable.

The trick with a project like this is not to be too reverent. Follow absolutely any instructions Kurosawa may have left behind, but don’t be afraid to add a new voice to it as well. In the end, the fusion of Spielberg and Kubrick is what made A.I. fascinating–it has the warmth of the former on the surface, but the ruthless black humor of the latter beneath.

Are you excited to see the closest thing to a new Akira Kurosawa film as we can get? Don’t “Masque” your reaction–let us hear it in comments!

Image: AIP

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