Sunday, April 03, 2011

Re-Casting Ben Kenobi

This is Takashi Shimura. He appeared in most of Kurasawa's movies, playing a wide variety of roles. He is sometimes referred to as one of Japan's greatest actors. Among his notable roles were the woodcutter in Rashomon, the dying bureaucrat in Ikiru, and the lead samurai, Kambei, in The Seven Samurai.

He also had a small role in The Hidden Fortress, a film that greatly influenced a young filmmaker from the U.S. named George Lucas. The 1977 film Star Wars owes much to Kurasawa, and The Hidden Fortress in particular.

In fact, it is often repeated that George Lucas considered Toshiru Mifune, another actor closely associated with Kurasawa, for the role of Ben Kenobi before settling on Alec Guinness (whose performance of course became iconic).

Imagining Toshiro Mifune (he played the crazy impostor samurai in Seven Samurai) in the role of Ben Kenobi is interesting, but recently I wondered about Takashi Shimura. Look at him. Go to YouTube and watch some scenes with him. That would have been an interesting performance, don't you think?

1 comment:

Michael LaTorra said...

Yes! That would have been brilliant casting. I've seen all of the movies you mentioned here. He was excellent in every one of them.