The Time Studio Ghibli Stood Up To Harvey Weinstein With A Katana

Image: 映画「夢と狂気の王国」
Image: 映画「夢と狂気の王国」

Among the many things for which former Hollywood mogul and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein was notorious for was re-editing movies as he saw fit, earning the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands.” But when Weinstein was handling Princess Mononoke’s US release, Studio Ghibli wouldn’t be bullied and sent Weinstein a samurai sword to prove it.

Back in a 2005 interview recently reposted by Metro, SoraNews and Kobini, Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki told The Guardian about the experience. At that time, Disney had the rights to Princess Mononoke in the United States, and Harvey Weinstein, who then headed up Disney subsidiary Miramax Films, was overseeing its release.

According to The Guardian, the rumour was that Miyazaki sent Weinstein a samurai sword with “No cuts” on the blade.

“Actually, my producer did that,” Miyazaki clarified, seeming to refer to longtime producer Toshio Suzuki. “Although I did go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein, and I was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts.”

In the just-published memoir Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man: 15 Years at Studio Ghibli, Steve Alpert clarifies the story, writing:

Suzuki knew of a small, hard-to-find store in Tokyo hidden away underneath the train tracks between Shinbashi and Yurakucho. It was where Japanese film studios bought the realistic-looking weapons used in Japanese samurai movies. Suzuki picked out a sword there and brought it with him to New York for our meeting with Harvey. It was a very convincing replica of a Japanese samurai sword. It was realistic in every detail except that the blade was not sharp, which you could not tell unless you got a good, close look at it.

These were still the days when you could bring a samurai sword with you in your carry-on luggage on a commercial flight from Tokyo to New York. Suzuki presented the sword to Harvey in a conference room full of horrified Miramax employees. One of them later approached me and said, “You gave Harvey a SWORD? Are you CRAZY?”

When Suzuki presented Harvey with the sword, Suzuki shouted in English and in a loud voice, “Mononoke Hime, NO CUT!”

“I defeated him,” Miyazaki later said about Weinstein, smiling.

This article was originally published on February 22, 2018. It has since been updated.

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