The Ghost of Tsushima movie may lean closer to its source material than one might expect.
In a new interview with Collider, Chad Stahelski revealed that he is aiming to make his live-action adaptation of Ghost of Tsushima a Japanese-language feature, one that would require subtitles. And while it seems unclear at this point whether the director will be granted his wish by all the parties involved, Sony is apparently “on board” with the idea already, according to Stahelski, which additionally includes the prospect of hiring an all-Japanese cast.
Here’s Stahelski on why he wants to film Ghost of Tsushima in Japanese:
Honestly, it’s probably the same things that would scare the shit out of most people. It’s a fantasy period piece. It’s done with reverence to Akira Kurosawa, who’s probably in the top five biggest influences of my life as far as film goes. It’s a chance to push technology and people in a story that’s timeless. It’s your typical mythological story of good versus evil, finding a man, watching him change the world or the world changes him. It’s all the Joseph Campbell stuff that you’d love in a story. You put that in with, obviously, so I’m told I have a bit of a Samurai fetish, which is probably true from Manga and anime and stuff.
So, I think if we did this right, it would be visually stunning. It’s character driven. It’s got an opportunity for great action, great looks. And honestly, we’d to try to do it, all in character. Meaning, it’s a Japanese thing about the Mongols invading Tsushima island. A complete Japanese cast, in Japanese. Sony is so on board with backing us on that. I’ve been going to Japan since I was 16. I have a love of the country, love of the people, love of the language. To try to direct not only in my language, but someone else’s and culturally shift my mindset to bring apart that in a cool way that still entices a Western audience.
Stahelski goes on to explain why he thinks he’ll be able to get away with presenting Ghost of Tsushima like a foreign film, one that will require most viewers to embrace the art of reading subtitles:
I thought about that a lot what you’re talking about. If you come into my offices in Manhattan Beach, I have an entire walls and hallways of frames from the best silent films of all time. Fatty Arbuckle to Buster Keaton, to Charlie Chaplin, to the Keystone cops. Look, I believe in that. I believe that’s why Jackie Chan was successful is you didn’t have to speak Cantonese or Mandarin to get him. You saw it on his face.
There’s a way to direct actors. There’s a way to do it. Where a look can mean a look which can mean a look, which mean there are a lot of ways to do it. So, part of the challenge, not to jump over your question, but look, I think there’s a way to do it. And a way to direct the cast and a way to mellow dramatically enhance facial performance. So, if I turn the sound off, I want you to know what the scene is about, in whatever language.
Stahelski ultimately admits how much of a challenge it will be to make the Ghost of Tsushima movie that he wants and fans deserve, although he offers confidence that he might be able to pull it off.
No one is going to give me $200 million to do a technology-push movie without speaking English. I get it. So, I have to be clever and I have to figure out what’s fiduciarily responsible to the property, to the studio and still get what I want out of it and still make it something epic. Again, big challenge, man. And we’re entering two a time where I think that’s, I’m like you, man. I’ll read subtitles all day. And I think America in general, or at least the Western audiences in general are getting more and more used to that because of the influence of Netflix and streamers and stuff, where we get so much more of a world content.
Will they show up in the theaters for that? I’m banking on yes, if everything else is there. I think it could hurt me or hurt the property if you’re failing a little less in each, visually it’s not great, the action is okay, the story is not clear. Look, if I nail all the other bits, I think I can inspire you enough to get in the car and go to the theater.
Ghost of Tsushima’s sales have topped at least 9.73 million, according to a tweet shared by developer Sucker Punch Productions in July 2022.
Stahelski’s most recent project is John Wick: Chapter 4, which is slated to hit theaters on March 24, 2023.