Kurosawa painting a backdrop for “Dodes'ka-den” (1970), his first color film. The picture was Kurosawa’s first since “Red Beard” (1965) and came on the heels of the collapse of his first attempt to collaborate with Hollywood; Kurosawa was hired to write and direct the Japanese half of “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970), but his 400 page script, mental health issues, and the Machiavellian scheming of his production partners torpedoed the project.
The title, dodes'ka-den, is a Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound trains make as they clatter across tracks. The commercial failure of the film, coupled with the “Tora! Tora! Tora!” disaster, led Kurosawa to attempt suicide in 1971. He wouldn’t make another film until 1975’s “Dersu Uzala,” which was made in Siberia, with the collaboration of the Soviet government.
George Harrison, Australian Grand Prix, Adelaide, 26 October 1986 (Photo: Adelaide Advertiser/Urban Cinefile)
“George Harrison died last week at 58; he is best known for playing guitar in The Beatles, but he later became a film producer on films like Life of Brian, Mona Lisa, The Long Good Friday and others. In November 1986, promoting Mona Lisa and visiting Australia for the Grand Prix, he spoke at length to Andrew L. Urban. We publish that interview as a tribute to the guitarist who became a producer - but always wanted to be a gardener.
This is the true story of a man called George Harrison, once one of The Beatles, and how an imaginary baby born in the stables next to Jesus - and a place called Wookey Hole - have changed his life and made him a film producer.
Of course Harrison is not so silly as to take it terribly seriously, and he certainly didn’t set out to be a film producer. He has been trying, in fact, to retire so he can concentrate on gardening, which he enjoys tremendously. Not your fiddly little flower gardening, however, but your grand scheme stuff: trees, hills, huge rock gardens and water gardens, things more by way of the broad canvas. It is no surprise, then, to learn that Harrison’s backyard measures some 35 acres. The property is at Henly-on-Thames, ‘where they have the boat race… The Regatta. It’s a very old Victorian place,’ he explains, ‘and it has these great water gardens that were built years ago, and it has an amazing rock garden with a replica of the Matterhorn on the top.’
‘I like gardening in a landscape way - like great artists painting pictures’
Harrison bought the place in 1970, no doubt eyeing the place for the scope it offers a keen gardener. ‘I’m not really into lots of little flowers, though. I like gardening in a landscape way - like great artists painting pictures… I like what you can paint with trees and stuff.’