Back in 2018, word surfaced that a Rashomon TV show, based on Akira Kurosawa‘s 1950 classic, was in the works. Now, a few years later, here’s an update: the Rashomon TV series is still happening, and it’s headed to HBO Max. The Comey Rule‘s Billy Ray and Mudbound‘s Virgil Williams are tackling the script, which will not be a direct adaptation of the Kurosawa film. That film was set in 8th century Japan, whereas the TV series will take place in a modern setting.
THR says that HBO Max is teaming with Amblin Television for a Rashomon TV series. News of a potential Rashomon series popped-up back in 2018, and now the show has a home – and writers. Billy Ray and Virgil Williams are handling the scripts, which “will center on a grisly sexual assault and murder and the unraveling mystery as seen through multiple characters’ competing narratives. It will explore themes of the truth and subjective point of view in a modern setting. Each episode will detail the perceived truth of an individual character — putting each at the center of the story and telling the events surrounding the murder from their point of view.”
The “different points of view reacting to a sexual assault” angle is lifted directly from the movie, which was in turn an adaptation of two different short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa: “In a Grove” and “Rashomon.” The 1950 film is one of Kurosawa’s best, in which “the rape of a bride and the murder of her samurai husband are recalled from the perspectives of a bandit, the bride, the samurai’s ghost and a woodcutter.” The movie was set in 8th century Japan, also known as the Nara period.
“I am delighted to work with Amblin Partners and HBO Max to reimagine Rashomon for today’s audience. I am excited to see my dad’s vision through this inspirational story kept alive and made accessible to a new generation,” said Hisao Kurosawa.
Executive producer Mark Canton added: “It takes a lot of hard work to make the stars align and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to create an original take on Rashomon – a masterpiece from a true genius of cinema – for new audiences, with the full support and blessing of the Kurosawa family. Not only that, but to be doing so in partnership with my friends and colleagues at Amblin Television, as well as the brilliantly talented Billy Ray and Virgil Williams, is truly the convergence of hard work and good fortune that every producer hopes for.”
My knee-jerk reaction here is to say we absolutely do not need a Rashomon TV series. But who knows, this might turn out well. I will concede that the “same story from a different POV” angle does lend itself to the TV format, so at least there’s that.
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