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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

TV's legendary 'Oshin' headed for theatrical version


YAMAGATA — "Oshin," the 1983 television drama that was hugely popular in Japan and well-received around the world, will be coming to the big screen in a movie that will probably be shot in Yamagata Prefecture, the setting for the original drama, sources said.

The details, including the cast and the time frame for shooting and release, could be announced as early as this month by Sedic International, the production company known for the Oscar-winning 2008 film "Okuribito" ("Departures"), the sources said.

"Oshin," an NHK TV production, depicts the life of a woman born in a poor farming village in Yamagata in the latter part of the Meiji Era who lives through the turbulent decades that follow, as Japan enters and endures World War II, rebuilds and then achieves rapid economic growth.

With a screenplay crafted by renowned writer Sugako Hashida, the drama featured actresses Ayako Kobayashi, Yuko Tanaka and the late Nobuko Otowa, who all played Oshin during the different stages of her life.

It drew viewer ratings in Japan that topped 60 percent at their highest. To date, the TV series has been aired in some 60 countries and areas across the globe.

The film will likely be shot at a movie village in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture.

A traditional Japanese-style house that was used in the TV version as the setting for the heroine's birthplace is being relocated there.

Mitsuo Suzuki, head of a group preserving the old house, was ecstatic to learn of the planned film adaptation, saying it will "rejuvenate the regional economy."

Yamagata prefectural officials in charge of promoting the tourism industry also expressed hope that the movie will draw more visitors to the area.

The early episodes of the series were used as a basis for an animated movie in 1984.

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