Tarsem Singh’s visually-ambitious Greek sword-and-sandals epic, Immortals (read our review), was number one at the box office this past weekend. Now that the auteur filmmaker has successfully launched his latest opus, and already has buzz building for Mirror, Mirror, his Snow White retelling, talk is already turning to what projects he might lend his unique brand of art-in-motion filmmaking to next.
In a recent interview, Singh starting to drop hints about a project that he would apparently love to get the ball rolling on: a feature-film adaptation of the popular cartoon series, Samurai Jack.
Samurai Jack was a show that ran on Cartoon Network from 2001 – 2004, and was the creation of iconic animation guru Genndy Tartakovsky – the man behind such cult-favorite cartoon series as The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory and Sym-Bionic Titan. The premise of the Emmy Award-winning Samurai Jack was that a samurai from feudal Japan (the titular Jack) is transported through time to a distant dystopian future where his nemesis, the shape-shifting wizard Aku, now rules the world. As a dedicated warrior of the samurai code, Jack travels the future landscape battling Aku’s evil and searching for a way back to his own time, where he can defeat Aku once and for all. The show won many awards and acclaim for its unique production and character designs, and for generally being a spectacular blend of ancient Japanese philosophy and futuristic sci-fi tropes, with hints of other genres like spaghetti westerns and Kung Fu flicks thrown in for good measure.
Check out a musical montage of Samurai Jack footage to see what we mean:
Clearly the style of the cartoon is something that would be fitting with the visual sensibilities of Tarsem Singh – a fact the director himself openly acknowledged:
“I love Samurai Jack. I would love to direct that. It’s brilliant. The speed, it embraces where it comes from. I find that comic strip films are halfway grounded. They don’t play my chord. But I love Samurai Jack. I love the animation…Have them [Cartoon Network] contact me.”
There have previously been attempts to turn Samurai Jack into a feature film. One version of the project was reportedly set up at New Line in the early 2000s, with Tower Heist director Brett Ratner apparently attached to direct. Shame that one never made it through development (massive sarcasm alert). Then, a few years back, word surfaced that J.J. Abrams was producing a Samurai Jack movie – but nothing has developed since that initial rumor started to circle.
Samurai Jack stood apart from so many other animated shows because it was courageous enough to be smart, deep, and artistic, instead of just being some flashy sci-fi/action cartoon. Many fans of the show will undoubtedly agree that any kind of movie adapted from the material would only be justified if it retained those same crucial elements. To his credit, though, Singh seems like a filmmaker that would at least attempt to make an “authentic” Samurai Jack flick, befitting the style and substance of the source material. But then again, we’re not the ones who need convincing: something tells us that Genndy Tartakovsky wouldn’t sign off on the project unless he himself was confident in the director handling the material – and that Cartoon Network won’t sign off unless they have Tartakovsky’s support.
How about you: would you like to see Tarsem Singh get a chance to make his Samurai Jack movie, or should the show be preserved in its animated form?