Interview with living screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro about the remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru

Few directors have had the audacity to remake cult classics – Gus Van Sant’s Psycho , an almost reimagining of Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic horror – and even fewer have succeeded. However, Living, a remake of Akira Kurasawa’s Ikiru, is an excellent production that pays homage to the original, but also brings something new to the story.

Directed by Oliver Hermanus, Living centers on Bill Nighy’s Mr Williams, a London local council bureaucrat in charge of the planning department. Papers are pushed, but little is actually done. However, after Mr. Williams receives some life-changing news, his entire perspective changes and he finally learns to live a little.

While Hermanus was behind the camera, the project was primarily promoted by Kazuo Ishiguro, the Noble Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day. He tells Total Film that he had “displeasure” with the original film, despite the fact that it had a profound effect on his own outlook on life. Below, read a Q&A of our conversation with Ishiguro along with Hermanus as they reveal why they decided to adapt Kurasawa’s cult classic. Edited for length and clarity.


(Image: Lionsgate)

Total Film: Akira Kurosawa’s film is obviously several years old now – so why revisit this story now, at this point in time, and transfer it to this setting?

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