Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Late Great Shinobu Hashimoto

Shinobu Hashimoto and Akira Kurosawa
Shinobu Hashimoto, the screenwriter known for his collaborations with Akira Kurosawa (including Rashômon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and The Hidden Fortress) as well as his work with other directors, died on July 19 2018. He was 100 years old.

Shinobu Hashimoto was born in in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan on April 18 1918. He enlisted in the Japanese army in 1938, but contracted tuberculosis while still training. He spent the next four years recuperating in a veteran's sanitarium. It was while he was recuperating that another patient gave him a film magazine, spurring his interest in film. He corresponded with director Mansaku Itami, who became his mentor. Mr. Hashimoto was working for a munitions company when one of his screenplays, Rashômon (1950), found its way to director Akira Kurosawa. This began a series of collaborations that would span the next twenty years.

In the Fifties Mr. Hashimoto wrote or co-wrote the screen plays for such films as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of Blood (1957), The Hidden Fortress (1958), The Chase (1958), Summer Clouds (1958), and The Bad Sleep Well (1960). He directed his first film, I Want to Be a Shellfish (1959), for which he also wrote the screenplay.

In the Sixties Shinobu Hashimoto wrote or co-wrote such films as Zero Focus (1961), Seppuku (1962), Brand of Evil (1964), Revenge (1964), The Sword of Doom (1966), Samurai Rebellion (1967), Tenchu! (1969), and Dodes'ka-den (1970). He also wrote and directed the film Minami no kaze to nami (1961).

Shinobu Hashimoto continued writing screenplays into the Seventies and Eighties, including the screenplays for Yellow Dog (1973) and Tidal Wave (1973). He directed Lake of Illusions (1982)His last work was for a new version of I Want to Be a Shellfish released in 2008.

Shinobu Hashimoto was one of the greatest screenwriters of all time. While best known for his work with Akira Kurosawa, he was very much in demand and worked with many other directors, including Ishirō Honda, Masaki Kobayashi, and Mikio Naruse. His work, whether it was jidai-geki, Japanese noir, or straightforward drama, was always characterised by strong, fully realised characters. If Rashômon, Seven Samurai, Summer Clouds, and Seppuku are regarded as classics today, it is largely because of Mr. Hahsimoto's contributions to them. To this day his influence is still being felt on international cinema. 

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