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Hideo Oguni

Hideo Oguni

Hideo Oguni was born in Aomori Prefecture in the Tōhoku region of Japan on July 9, 1904. Oguni began his pursuit of a career in the arts in his early 30s, kicking off what would become a long line of screenwriting gigs with Japanese projects including "Modern madame gyôjôki" (1933) and a small handful of films directed by Hisatora Kumagaya. Although Oguni penned more than 50 scripts in his first two decades of professional screenwriting alone, it wasn't until the early 1950s when his career would begin to blossom properly. Oguni's earliest claim to bona fide artistic history was "Ikiru" (1952), his first collaboration with famed director Akira Kurosawa and then up-and-coming screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto. The powerful drama film, highlighting the struggles of a cancer-stricken bureaucrat searching for the meaning of life, led to further collaboration with the creative pair. The next and arguably most culturally significant of these partnerships was "Seven Samurai" (1954), a story about a group of underdog samurai hired to protect a 16th century Japanese village from outlaw attack. Since its release, the film has become regularly heralded as one of the most iconic pieces of Japanese cinema, and of film history as a whole. Different types of movies would attract Oguni in the coming years, including the high concept sci-fi picture "Warning from Space" (1956), as well as further Kurosawa projects like the action film "Throne of Blood" (1957), drama "Donzoko" (1957), the adventure picture "The Hidden Fortress" (1958), and the crime movie "The Bad Sleep Well" (1960). That same year, Oguni, Kurosawa, and Shinobu's famed "Seven Samurai" would be re-imagined for American audiences as the now classic Western "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), though neither one of the original screenwriters received source material credit on the final product. Oguni remained a repeat collaborator of Kurosawa's through the '60s, penning the mystery thriller "High and Low" (1963) and the period drama "Red Beard" (1965), before finding new success under the direction of other filmmakers. He went on to work with Hiroshi Inagaki on the action film "Machibase" (1970) before penning his most notable latter day script: the World War II movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (1970), directed chiefly by American director Richard Fleischer, with Japanese filmmakers Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda contributing to direction. Oguni and Kurosawa worked on one last film together, the war drama "Ran" (1985), which also proved to be Oguni's final screenwriting credit during his lifespan. Oguni died on February 5, 1996 at age 91, but continued to influence cinema. Directors like Yoshimitsu Morita, Shinji Higuchi, and Antoine Fuqua drew from Oguni's past scripts to develop new projects like "Tsubaki Sanjûrô" (2007), "Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess" (2008), and an attempted remake of "The Magnificent Seven," respectively.
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