SOMETHING LIKE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
No Regrets for Our Youth
THE TITLE OF my first post-war film became a popular phrase. After the release, one frequently came across the usage "no regrets for our ------" in the newspapers and other media. But for me personally the feeling is the opposite; I have many regrets about this movie. The reason is that the script was rewritten against my will.
This film was born amid the two great union strikes at the Toho studios. The first Toho dispute took place in February of 1946, and the second in October of the same year. NO REGRETS FOR OUR YOUTH was produced during the seven months between the two outbreaks. As a result of the victory of the first strike, the Toho employees' union became very powerful, and the number of Communist Party members among the employees increased. Their voice in matters of film production became more important than before, and a Scenario Review Committee was formed. This committee decided that the script for NO REGRETS required changes, and the film was shot from a rewrite. The reason was not because of any offense found in the content of my script, but because another script based on similar material had also been submitted to the committee.
I felt, however, that although the two scripts were based on similar material, they treated it in entirely different ways. The result, I was sure, would be two entirely different films. Anyway, this is what I said before the Review Committee, but my opinion was rejected.
When the two films were completed, members of the Review Committee said to me, "You were right. If we had known they would turn out like this, we would have let you shoot from your first script." This was the height of irresponsibility. Playwright Hisaita Eijiro's first script for my film was such a beautiful piece of work that it still pains me to remember that it was shelved at the hands of such thoughtless people.
The second draft of the script for NO REGRETS was a forced rewrite of the story, so it became somewhat distorted. This shows in the last twenty minutes of the film. But my intention was to gamble everything on that last twenty minutes. I poured a feverish energy into those two thousand feet and close to two hundred shots of film. All of the rage I felt toward the Scenario Review Committee went into those final images.
When I had completed the film, I was so agitated and exhausted I couldn't evaluate it with a cool head. But I was convinced that I must have made something very strange. The company arranged a screening for the American censors. They sat talking among themselves while it was being shown, so I was all the more certain that I had failed. But then as the film went into its last twenty minutes a hush fell over the group, and they began to gaze at the screen with deep concentration. They looked as if they were holding their breath right up until the end title appeared on the screen. When the lights came on, they all stood up at once and reached out to shake hands with me. They praised the film to the skies and congratulated me warmly, but I just stood there amazed.
It wasn't until after I left them that I really began to feel that the film had succeeded.
From SOMETHING LIKE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Akira Kurosawa, translated by Audie E. Bock, copyright © 1982 by Akira Kurosawa. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. For online information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet Web site at http://www.randomhouse.com.