End Credits #82: Cinema's 2018 Lost Treasures Shinobu Hashimoto
Sadly, one of the great screenwriters of all time has passed... perhaps the greatest. Japanese filmmaker Shinobu Hashimoto has died at age 100.
Guest contributor A.C. Francis has graciously allowed me to collaborate on his article regarding this most influential loss to the world of cinema.
His first screenplay was Rashomon (1950), written with and for director Akira Kurosawa based on stories by Ryûnosuke Akutagawa. He followed that monumental work with collaborative screenplays for Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai, 1954), I Live in Fear (Ikimono no kiroku, 1955), Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jô, 1957), The Hidden Fortress (Kakushi-toride no san-akunin, 1958, and a strong inspiration for Star Wars) The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru, 1960) and Dodes’ka-Den (Dodesukaden, 1960).
He also provided the screenplay to the Tadashi Imai directed drama Darkness at Noon (Mahiru no ankoku) based on the novel by Hiroshi Masaki, a powerful work focusing on a manhunt for the murderer of an elderly couple. For 1956 Japan, it was a shocking subject matter made relevant by Hashimoto’s intense and gripping screenplay.
In 1958, the writer adapted, from a story by Seichô Matsumoto, another substantial yet leisurely paced film, The Chase (Harokomi) about the police waiting on a suspect to return to his lover. Additionally, his script examined the plight of women in post World War II Japan and greatly contributed to the film's heart-rending impact as its themes were slowly revealed, layer by layer.
He scripted the phenomenal Masaki Kobayashi samurai masterpiece Harakiri a.k.a. Seppuku (1962) and later the emotionally consuming Samurai Rebellion (Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu, 1967) for the same director. Hashimoto created two more cinematic triumphs for director Kihachi Okamoto: Samurai Assassin (1965) and the visceral samurai vendetta film Sword of Doom (Dai-bosatsu tôge, 1966). He additionally provided the screenplay for the epic Samurai Banners (Fûrin kazan, 1969) directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and the fierce ronin drama Tenchu! (Hitokiri, 1969) for director Hideo Gosha.
Hashimoto directed three films including the beautiful and quirky I Want to Be a Shellfish from 1959. This film's remake in 2008 was directed by Katsuo Fukuzawa.
Rashomon was his very first screenplay and he worked closely with Kurosawa during the making of the film, as the director wanted Hashimoto by his side at all times. Rashomon became quite the noteworthy film for Japan as it won the country’s first international cinematic prize, The Golden Lion, at the 1951 Venice Film Festival.
Hashimoto also wrote a beautiful memoir which centred on his collaborations with Kurosawa, further proving the writer to be a true visionary like his filmmaking partner. The book features Hashimoto’s insights into screenwriting and his “Life Lessons” while working with the esteemed director.
Shinobu Hashimoto gave us some of the greatest masterpieces of cinema to treasure throughout our lifetimes.
Goodbye and Farewell to this brilliant writer. Shinobu Hashimoto (April 18, 1918 - July 19, 2018) R.I.P.