An unrealised Akira Kurosawa project is finally being made

The Masque of the Black Death is being developed from a finished script by the late Japanese master.


Jack Godwin

The Chinese entertainment company Huayi Brothers Media have revealed a number of new projects, including The Masque of the Black Death, based on an unfilmed script by one of the all-time great directors, Akira Kurosawa.

The master Japanese filmmaker began writing the screenplay shortly completing his 1975 epic Dersu Uzala. The script was finished before his death in 1998, but it never went into production.

The film is an adaptation of the Edgar Allen Poe short story ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, which follows a prince’s attempts to avoid a dangerous plague known as ‘the Red Death’, by hiding in his abbey. The prince hosts a masquerade ball along with other nobles within the abbey, until a mysterious figure suffering from the plague appears.

It won’t be the first time Poe’s story has been adapted for the screen, with Roger Corman having directed Vincent Price in a 1964 version. There’s also a 1989 remake, and various productions for the stage, radio and numerous comic books.

The screenplay, which is now available to read online, significantly expands on the original story, with the far-reaching plague giving the film an apocalyptic setting. According to Akira Kurosawa Info, the script was not intended as a finished draft but rather an exercise in recreating the original story.

No director has been attached to the project yet, but the studio is reportedly seeking a young filmmaker, and a tentative release date is set for 2020. Seeing an expanded version of this short story will provide audiences with a rare window into the artistic process of this highly influential filmmaker, 20 years after his death.

Published 6 Mar 2017

Tags: Akira Kurosawa Japanese cinema

Suggested For You

Why Akira Kurosawa’s Ran remains one of cinema’s great epics

By Oscar Rickett

The Japanese director’s bleak and beautiful 1985 film returns to cinemas.

Discover this classic Japanese satire about capital punishment

By Adam Cook

Nagisa Oshima’s 1968 film Death by Hanging is now available courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

Is this the most extreme 108 minutes in the history of Japanese cinema?

By Anton Bitel

Destruction Babies is raucous rebel filmmaking at its brutal best.

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.