The year is 1975. Author James Clavell completed a book based on a line from his daughter’s schoolbook. The phrase “In 1600, an Englishman went to Japan and became a samurai” would launch a literary journey into 1600s Japan that would transform into a a major best selling novel, a 9 hour mini-series, and more. Now FX will relaunch the story of Shogun!
The Amazon description reads as follows:
“Set in the year 1600, it tells the story of a bold English pilot whose ship was blown ashore in Japan, where he encountered two people who were to change his life: a warlord with his own quest for power, and a beautiful interpreter torn between two ways of life and two ways of love.”
The story follows ambitious sailor, John Blackthorne. His ships washes ashore in Feudal Japan, and Blackthorne becomes swept up in the schemes of Lord Toranaga and his attempts to become Shogun. Along the way, Blackthorne learns Japanese culture and falls in love. This is a story that has sat silent for too long and now Disney and FX will fix this situation.
Shogun – East Meets West
Asians have lived in America for centuries, but between problems of racism and their own reclusive nature, very little was actually known about the eastern world. Obviously World War II did not shed a very positive light on Japan, but that was a generation before the book’s release. In the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s Japanese and Asian culture began a boom here in America. Thanks to people like Bruce Lee who wanted to open up their culture to Americans, Asian culture and the martial arts would start a fire that still burns with passion and pride today. Shogun became one of the first major novels that gave Westerners insights into Japanese culture.
Back in the 80’s we may have had movie theaters, but the VCR had yet to be realized. Television staged epic events that spanned a week or more called the mini-series. Shows like North and South, The Thorn Birds, and Shogun and more were major events at the time. The Shogun miniseries would span nine hours, and really open up Japanese culture for the first time. While starring the late, great Richard Chamberlain and John Rys-Davies helps, Shogun helped ignite the imagination. On the heels of Star Wars, Americans wanted far off fantasy lands full of amazing sights and adventures. This one just happened to be based off real events.
Shogun – Martial Arts and Beyond
Think of it this way. Imagine all of the epic fights James T Kirk would get into in Star Trek. Go back and watch the old John Wayne classics and see how ‘the Duke’ threw a punch. Now fast forward to today and look at what qualifies as an epic fight. This affects both the movie screen as well as real life, since MMA fighting relies on many forms of martial arts from Asia and abroad. With the success of Bruce Lee, the 80s became filled with martial arts movies (both good and terrible), and launched careers like Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van-Damme.
And that’s just the martial arts. Shogun would also introduce us to the Japanese culture and artistry that permeates modern culture in many forms. Whether it expresses itself in paintings, tattoos, or home décor, it can be found everywhere. None of this would have happened without pioneering influences like Shogun. I was only five when the miniseries launched. It had such a huge impact on me, I remember it to this day as it sparked my love affair with Japanese culture.
As exciting as all of the Marvel and Star Wars news was last Thursday, the news of Shogun returning to television ranks as one of the top announcements of the day.
Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo will adapt the series from the novel and Tim Van Patten will produce. No word was given on directors or release date, so this may be a few years down the road yet. Keep checking with Thathashtagshow.com for more news and information.