Saturday, June 9, 2007

Nothing to do with Tom Cruise

The director Tom Dey has optioned The Last Samurai and plans to make a film of it. (I am rather hoping he will persuade Kurosawa Productions to give permission to use the book's original title, The Seventh Samurai.) Dey would like to use animations of scripts such as are to be seen at Kanji Café or Arabic Typography -- if you know Greek, Arabic, Hebrew or Japanese, and also know your way around a program that can achieve these effects, he would love to see a demo. (E-mails sent c/o Paperpools will reach him.)

My hunch is it is easier for someone who already knows one or more of the languages to get up to speed with the software than for a Flash wizard to bluff his way through even one of these languages. There's not much point in putting random letters or characters up on the screen, what one wants is something that enables the audience to replicate the experience of the child, the moment when he suddenly thinks: I can do this!


Anonymous said...

I may be getting ahead of myself, but...


I cannot WAIT to see a movie of the book. And yeah, The Last Samurai wouldn't be the ideal title. Whenever I'm found reading the book or talking about it, they say, oh... you mean that Tom Cruise movie? Loved it. and I'm like, no, no, it has nothing to do with the movie, jesus what a scary thought. Reading a book adaptation of an awful movie. But imagine how much harder this gets when it actually does have to do with the movie, but not THE movie. Or THE movie, not the movie. See how confusing it will be? :(

But this is good news indeed. I used to be fast and loose with the who I imagined the cast of the book to be, but now I shall have to be more precise in case you need casting suggestions. For instance, Szegeti had a blurry face, distinguished only by thick eyebrows, half-length sideburns and olive skin. Now he sharpens into a young Omar Sharif look alike with a narrower face. Sharif's quite the bridge player himself, and I wonder if it isn't a just a co-incidence that they're both of Middle-Eastern origin...

Languagehat said...

Exciting news. I just hope they somehow do it justice.

Helen DeWitt said...

Is there a book of the Tom Cruise movie, I wonder? Perhaps I should volunteer to write one. Then I would be author of BOTH books. While it's perhaps stretching a point to say this would reduce confusion, it would at least eliminate the need to disclaim the Tom Cruise connection. Perhaps I could even bring it out as my second book. "Helen DeWitt is the author of The Last Samurai and The Last Samurai."

Helen DeWitt said...

(hassan -- forgot to say -- I was thinking of sharif, whose autobiography, ma vie au bridge, is a great favourite of mine -- he's a very witty writer)

language -- well, it would be awfully nice if they got more people, especially children, tackling Greek and other supposedly difficult languages. Tom Dey did also say he was going to go away and read J S Mill.

Anonymous said...

Not sure there is a book adaptation of the movie, but it is ridiculously similar to James Clavell's Shogun. But you can outdo them all. Go, go! "The Last Samurai" would need to come out before the movie to create a resonance field of hype, so you need to get started post-haste.

And then, do you reckon Tom Cruise would have the humour to cameo in the new "The Last Samurai" just for kicks? Or even better, actually star in it? The movie could be, "The Last Samurai" starring Tom Cruise as Val Peters.

Anonymous said...

"There's not much point in putting random letters or characters up on the screen.."

Coincidentally, I saw Little Man Tate few weeks ago, where they did exactly that. Here's hoping Dey's enthusiasm will result in a fine movie. His filmography on left me.. well, puzzled.

Unknown said...

nice one Ithaca! awesome as the yoot speak. Get Tom involved definitely - or maybe this casting pursuit would be better as a retrospective rewind scene in Your Name Here film (sure a tad hasty considering the nacescent steps to publishing but tasty none-the-less) a scene where Tom is approached/arguing to be in Last Samurai and no doubt (hilarious to audience albeit maddening to characters) problems between Tom, director, script writer, DeWitt, director, make up, catering and lighting-
-if it is not too early to put my hand up for position of 'script boy' or 'continunity' - maybe some walk on line or role as background sweeper in school grounds//
good to hear-

Helen DeWitt said...


I saw Little Man Tate a few years ago and thought it very disappointing, for the same reason that Good Will Hunting and A Beautiful Mind were disappointing -- it gave no sign of understanding what the excitement of intellectual engagement actually felt like.

Since Dey has spent a lot of time on mainstream comedy, the casual viewer might not see him as the obvious director for a book centered on an obsession with Kurosawa; anyone who saw his visual treatment, though, would think this was someone who MUST make the film. (I would have scanned all the images for my website, but I think there are copyright issues.) I only wish I had had those images available when I was discussing covers for the book with its publishers.

Professor V: I think Your Name Here could only benefit from greater involvement of "Tom" the Thetan "Cruise", and your suggestions for his contribution to the plot are just what the book needs. We need to address the concerns of those who feel the book is too predictable, too much of an "easy reader".

Well -- OK, maybe that class of reader is not *worryingly* overrepresented just now, but I think this is a great idea. Maybe that is the problem with the D/G discussions in the last third of YNH, maybe they are just making the same joke without really going anywhere -- maybe Cruise is exactly what's needed. Thetan Tom only came in at the last minute when I was following up that Adorno clip you sent me -- I wrote a long e-mail to Mark Greif explaining that Tom is proof that Jesus loves me, and Mark said he did not dispute the importance of the love of Jesus to the book but the prophet always needs an interpreter ("Moses und Aron"?), and I then wrote a long post about the love of Jesus which is now in the drafts folder. But it could be that it would be good to work back from what is without a doubt the best last page the world has ever seen. And it could be that this is a job for the Professor.

I will drop Dey a line about your interest in the film. (If a film is made of YNH they should use footage from your remake of North by Northwe--

this has to be in the book.