Shinobu Hashimoto, the Japanese screenwriter, died last week in Tokyo at the age of 100. Hashimoto wrote screenplays with acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, including the ones for “Rashomon” and “Seven Samurai.”
He also co-wrote “Ikiru” along with Kurosawa Hideo Oguni. That film, made in 1952 about a dying modern-day Japanese bureaucrat, has little in common with “Rashomon” and “Seven Samurai” although, like “Rashomon,” it uses flashbacks to great effect.
A list of his credits demonstrates that Hashimoto could write just about every kind of movie.
According to his Washington Post obituary, Hashimoto was a railway employee and munitions company employee before turning to screenwriting. He enlisted in the Army in 1938, but soon was diagnosed with tuberculosis and ended up in the hospital, his military career over. During his lengthy hospitalization, Hashimoto got the idea of writing films after reading a sample screenplay in a magazine and concluding he could do better.
Japan has given us some of the best films ever made and Hashimoto wrote many of them. RIP.
UPDATE: These days, South Korea is making outstanding films, outstripping Japan in my opinion. Of the recent South Korean films I’ve seen, my favorite is “The Age of Shadows,” a police/espionage thriller set in World War II during the Japanese occupation. If you have the opportunity to see it, take advantage.
South Korea excels at cops and gangster films. A good example is “The Merciless,” a cross between “The Departed” and “White Heat” with a little bit of “Pulp Fiction” thrown in at the beginning. Not terribly original, but expertly executed, as are all of the South Korean films in this genre that I’ve seen.