Kubi (首, lit. ’Neck’) is a 2023 Japanese historical samurai film written, directed and edited by Takeshi Kitano, who also stars as Hashiba Hideyoshi (Toyotomi Hideyoshi). The film is based on the novel of the same name, which was released in 2019 and written by Kitano. The film depicts the historical event of the Honnō-ji incident, which took place in the Sengoku period in 1582. Kadokawa Corporation produced the film and co-distributed it in Japan with Toho. The film also stars Hidetoshi Nishijima as Akechi Mitsuhide, Ryo Kase as Oda Nobunaga, Tadanobu Asano as Kuroda Kanbei, and Nao Omori as Hashiba Hidenaga.
It had its world premiere in the Cannes Premiere section at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on 23 May 2023. It is scheduled for release in Japan on 23 November 2023.
- Takeshi Kitano as Hashiba Hideyoshi
- Hidetoshi Nishijima as Akechi Mitsuhide
- Ryo Kase as Oda Nobunaga
- Nakamura Shidō II as Naniwa Mosuke
- Tadanobu Asano as Kuroda Kanbei
- Nao Ōmori as Hashiba Hidenaga
- Yūichi Kimura as Sorori Shinzaemon
- Kenichi Endō as Araki Murashige
- Masanobu Katsumura as Saitō Toshimitsu
- Susumu Terajima as Sahei
- Kenta Kiritani as Hattori Hanzō
- Naomasa Musaka as Ankokuji Ekei
- Makoto Ōtake as Mamiya Buryō
- Kanji Tsuda as Tamezō
- Yoshiyoshi Arakawa as Shimizu Muneharu
- Kan’ichirō as Mori Ranmaru
- Jun Soejima as Yasuke
- Kaoru Kobayashi as Tokugawa Ieyasu
- Ittoku Kishibe as Sen no Rikyū
This film was conceived around the same time as Takeshi Kitano’s early directorial work Sonatine (1993). Akira Kurosawa was said to have high expectations, stating that “If Kitano were to make this film, it would be a masterpiece on par with Seven Samurai.” The reason it took Kitano 30 years was explained as follows: “Recently, I’ve been able to gather talented actors in the Kitano-group, and when such excellent actors come together, I felt like it was finally time to make it… and that’s how it finally came to fruition,” Kitano said.
This film was produced with a budget of 1.5 billion yen, with funding from Kadokawa, and it was shot between April and September 2021.
On August 3, 2022, Weekly Shincho reported that despite the film’s editing being nearly 90% complete, there was a dispute between Kitano and Kadokawa over the contract, resulting in a suspension of production. According to the report, Kadokawa sought additional funding from Netflix, but Kitano demanded a portion of it for himself. It was also reported that Kitano was unaware of this funding request and became suspicious, wondering if there were other hidden agendas involved. On the same day, Kitano explained the situation on his official website, stating, “Due to Kadokawa’s refusal to finalize the contract, I had no choice but to halt the production. Some staff members were also dissatisfied with the contract terms, and it seems that there were people who hadn’t signed contracts until the end of the shoot.” He further clarified, “It’s not about money. The contract proposed by Kadokawa was extremely one-sided, and I haven’t made any unreasonable demands. If they agree to the contract, I will resume the editing work.”
On April 15, 2023, it was announced that the film would be released in Japan in the autumn of the same year, and confirmed its date of November 23, 2023 after the Cannes premiere.
The film was selected to be screened as part of the Cannes Premiere section of the 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it had its world premiere on 23 May 2023.
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