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Peter Webber is set to direct the historical epic Emperor, set in the days immediately following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II when Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his staff decided not to pursue war crimes against Emperor Hirohito.
Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring) will begin shooting the film in January 2012 from a script by David Klass and Vera Blasi.
Yoko Narahashi (The Last Samurai), Gary Foster (Daredevil, Sleepless in Seattle) and Eugene Nomura (Tajomaru, Surely Some Day) and Russ Krasnoff (The Soloist) are producing.
Inspired by true events, Emperor focuses on American Gen. Bonner Fellers, a leading Japanese expert who works on MacArthur’s staff and is put in charge of the Hirohito case. The story is interwoven with Fellers’ love affair with Aya, a Japanese exchange student he had met years earlier in the U.S.
“I immediately responded to the intelligence, humanity and emotion of the script. It’s a fascinating period of history and there are strong parallels to the contemporary world in the issues of regime change and seeking revenge against the old political order. The fact that all this came wrapped up in a tense political thriller with an epic love story at the heart of it made it irresistible,” Webber said.
CAA is representing domestic rights. Webber will shoot in New Zealand and Japan, and casting is underway.
“The end of World War II in the far east and the relationship between General MacArthur and Japan is a part of history which has been largely unexplored in film. With most documents burned, historians have relied on accounts which are being debated to this day,” Foster said.
Narahashi, who runs Fellers Film with Nomura, said the project is important in that it is a joint Japanese-U.S.-U.K. movie.
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