By Kevin Ouellette - June 29, 2012 4:24am EDT (11 months ago)
On Wednesday it was announced that Koki Mitani will write and direct a film adaptation of his own historical novel Kiyosu Kaigi (lit. “Kiyosu Conference”), which was released on the day of the announcement.
According to the director, he woke up at 5am last Friday and spent 3 hours drawing an outline of the various characters on a white board.
The novel wrapped up a 12 months for the Mitani, who has been in the midst of commemorating his 50th year on planet Earth with four stage plays, a TV drama, a movie, and a divorce from his longtime wife Satomi Kobayashi thrown in for good measure. Now days away from turning 51, the director proclaimed that the movie will be the first step of his next 50 years, following in the footsteps of director Kaneto Shindo, who recently died at 100.
“Kiyosu Kaigi” revolves around a conference at Kiyosu Castle between Shibata Katsuie, Hashiba Hideyoshi (later Toyotomi Hideyoshi), Niwa Nagahide, and Ikeda Tsuneoki following the death of Oda Nobunaga at Honnō-ji. The men must decide how to handle issues such as succession of leadership and redistribution of territory and the story depicts Hideyoshi’s attempts to use trickery to gain the upper-hand on the other men even though he’s outnumbered.
Instead of gag humor like some of his previous work, this film will be more of a human comedy focusing on the desperation of the characters involved.
The movie’s casting is still in progress, but the oft-hyperbolic Mitani has already pronounced that it will be his best lineup to date and everyone involved will be playing lead.
Image-wise, he claims to be looking for someone similar to Ken Ogata circa 1978 to play Hideyoshi and a Sean Connery type to play Shibata. In addition to the four members of the meeting, he’s also looking for actresses to play female characters such as Oichi-no-kata and Matsu-hime.
Mitani has reportedly had a love of Japanese history since elementary school. When all his friends were drawing gag manga characters like Bakabon, he was off on his own drawing portraits of Emperor Go-Shirakawa. He had a particular fondness for historical accounts of the Kiyosu Conference, so this film will mark the culmination of a 40-year fascination.
Never one to undersell a project’s potential, Mitani is already predicting world domination and hoping for box office earnings of exactly 13.8 billion yen to top the 13.7 billion earned by 2003’s Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise.
He’ll once again be teaming up with cinematographer Hideo Yamamoto and production designer Yohei Taneda, both of whom worked on his 2006 film Suite Dreams. The set design will be a huge undertaking, requiring a realistic set of Kiyosu Castle to be built from scratch. Kazuko Kurosawa, prolific period costume designer and Akira Kurosawa’s eldest daughter, has also signed on.
Filming of “Kiyosu Kaigi” will begin in November with a release slated for autumn 2013.