|Directed by||Guy Moshe|
|Produced by||Keith Calder
|Written by||Guy Moshe|
|Music by||David Torn|
|Cinematography||Juan Ruiz Anchía|
|Editing by||Glenn Garland|
|Budget||$25 million USD|
This classic tale is re-vitalized and re-imagined with shadow-play fantasy. The world of Bunraku is past and present, fantasy and reality, Samurai and Western all combined. Like Sin City and 300, it gives classic conflict a new graphically supercharged dynamic.
Directed by Guy Moshe from his own script, the title of the film is based on a 400-year-old form of Japanese puppet theater, a style of storytelling that uses 4-foot-tall puppets with highly detailed heads, each operated by several puppeteers who blend into the background wearing black robes and hoods.
A mysterious drifter and an ardent young Japanese warrior Yoshi both arrive in a town that is terrorized by outrageous and virulent criminals. Each is obsessed with his separate mission, and guided by the wisdom of The Bartender at the Horseless Horseman Saloon, the two eventually join forces to bring down the corrupt and contemptuous reign of Nicola, the awesomely evil "woodcutter" and his lady Alexandra, a femme fatale with a secret past. Heroes triumph here only because the force of their will transforms and transcends both space and time.
Following the completion of his first feature film, Holly, writer-director Guy Moshe started working on the initial concept art for Bunraku in 2006. The first drafts of the screenplay were largely inspired by Westerns and martial arts movies, of which Guy Moshe is a huge fan. In a 2010 interview, Moshe revealed that he first "sold the script for Bunraku to a production company... When it became clear that they would not film it, I bought it back." Moshe was asked in a 2007 interview on the subject of his future projects. "My next film is called Bunraku and it is an action-fantasy circus ride into man's fascination with violence. It has a sort of a Spaghetti Western, samurai movie feel and it's going to be built and shot entirely on a stage so it couldn't be more different than 'Holly', maybe 180 degrees from it actually. Like 'Holly', it also aspires to go a little beyond the pure entertainment factor, but I think that, all in all, I would like to be the kind of filmmaker who can tell and make more than one story or one type of genre. I feel like in the past an auteur was a person who constantly challenged himself, where, today, because of the fierce competition and growing difficulty of making different and unique films, filmmakers can get stuck in a certain style and movie genre and keep recreating the same films. It takes two years of your life to make a movie, and to me that's priceless. If I am gonna spend that kind of time pouring my blood and tears into it, then I wanna make sure I learn something on the way. That is what life is all about anyhow, I guess, growing and learning and then realizing you know nothing at all."
The $25m action-adventure Bunraku is produced by director Guy Moshe’s Los Angeles-based Picturesque Films, Los Angeles-based Ram Bergman Productions and is fully financed by Keith Calder’s Los Angeles-based Snoot Entertainment. Snoot Entertainment was founded in February 2004 to independently develop, finance and produce both commercial genre-oriented live-action films and CG animated features with broad audience appeal. In a 2008 interview, Keith Calder, Snoot's president, said. " I've always loved movies in the 'no-name stranger' coming to town and ending up in a bigger struggle (genre)... I think [Bunraku] is an opportunity to take this genre and spin it on its head and bring a unique and strong visual style to it." Acclaimed production designer Alex McDowell is co-producing the film. Asked about his first production in a 2009 interview, McDowell said he "met with Guy Moshe, the director of Bunraku, and his producer Nava Levin a couple of years ago, originally to consult with them. His project was such an interesting and provocative blend of genres and technique that I got hooked and helped them to set up an innovative approach to pre-production that integrated pre-visualization, storytelling and design into a new fluid and low budget workspace for the creative team. The story is set on a theatre stage in a folded paper world where Russian gangsters, cowboys and samurai warriors come together in inevitable and never-ending battle. It's an elegantly choreographed dance of revenge, honor and friendship...It's cool!" IM Global is handling worldwide sales.
Origami Digital, LLC is responsible for all the animation and visual effects work on Bunraku. The movie will mix CGI and practical sets to create the world of "Bunraku". In a 2008 interview, actor Josh Hartnett, who was instrumental in getting the film Sin City made, compared the look of Bunraku to Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, in that it will play out (or at least appear to play out) in one long, unedited take. Hartnett explained " It's in the vein of Sin City or something like that, where the world doesn't look like reality at all...Some of the scenes are gonna be more Michel Gondry-like I guess but a lot of them will be green screen as well...It's not fantasy. Well, I mean, it's not Narnia. It's a film that, I don't know how to stick it into a genre, but I would say it's more a film like Sin City than anything else." In a 2010 interview, actor Kevin McKidd revealed that Bunraku " is a hybrid of a western and a martial arts film. The world it's set in is almost circus-like in the feel of it and it's all origami. The whole universe is constantly folding paper to create a cityscape or interiors of rooms or the sunrise." In a 2009 interview, co-producer Alex McDowell, better known as the production designer of major Hollywood successes such as Minority Report, The Terminal or Fight Club, indicated that in Bunraku the production was using "the idea that the movement in the camera work should dictate the set, rather than the set design in any way limiting the action. So, if a character performed a kick which needed a physical context such as a wall, that wall would be provided in the design. In this way, the actors should have a total freedom of space in which to work and to give of their best." McDowell’s special value to Bunraku as a salesman has been front-loaded. The pre-visual content that he made to show during the 2008 Festival de Cannes helped director Guy Moshe to double the amount of anticipated investment in the production.
Guy Moshe gathered a key production crew to bring to life his hyperstylized Bunraku. Production designer Chris Farmer has worked on the computer-animated film The Wild. Cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía has worked on Glengarry Glen Ross, At Close Range, I Come With The Rain. Editor Glenn Garland has worked on The Fantastic Four, Halloween (2007), The Devil's Rejects. David Torn have composed evocative scores for a number of films, including Adaptation, The Big Lebowski, The Departed, Traffic, The Order.
In January 2003, Josh Hartnett was approached by director Robert Rodriguez, who was intent on showing Sin City creator Frank Miller that Hollywood could film his material without sacrificing its quality. After lending his time for nothing more than a test, Hartnett's scene got the film made and eventually was reused as the opening take of the 2005 film. Once again Hartnett is trying to break new visual territory with Bunraku. Interviewed at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival to promote his dot-com drama August, Hartnett revealed : "I'm going to Romania to shoot this film called Bunraku...All the cast isn't set yet, but it's going to be a lot of really interesting actors, in this weird kind of papier-mâché world...I've been trying to do as much artistic fare as I can and things that are compelling to watch as well...It's a story of revenge...My character is called 'The Drifter', and he comes into this world that doesn't look like anything like you've ever seen before...[The Script] has a lot of fight sequences in it, but it's more about these crazy characters...Like my character, he's a gypsy and he's coming into town and he's got something to prove and no one really knows what he's about."
Guy Moshe's Bunraku heats up when it was officially announced that actors Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Ron Perlman have signed to star in the film. Bunraku marks Moore's and Harrelson's second movie together since the 1993 film Indecent Proposal. Asked in a 2010 interview how he managed to sign two international stars like Harrelson and Moore onto an expiremtal film, Moshe explained "They really liked Holly and responded immediately to the Bunraku script." Interviewed at the 2009 Middle East International Film Festival, Moore described Bunraku as a “big action adventure”, “It has tremendous special effects” she enthused. In a 2009 interview, Perlman referred to Bunraku as a "post-apocalyptic film."
In a 2010 interview, Scottish actor Kevin McKidd said "I play a very effeminate, master killer who's almost like a Fred Astaire tap-dancing his way through the movie. It's so different than anything I've done." McKidd further revealed "It’ll be a very interesting film. Guy Moshe, who also directed, wrote what I thought was one of the strangest scripts I’d ever read, especially because the story takes place in an in-depth CGI universe. It’s very allegorical — a mixture of a samurai film and a western in a virtual origami universe where everything is made of folding paper, and there’s a lot of martial arts in it...I thought Bunraku was interesting enough to be in. I play the main killer of the movie who’s hunting down Josh Hartnett’s character under the instruction of Ron Perlman’s character, Nicola. They’ve been doing the effects for the last 19 months. But then this is an independent film, not Avatar. I’m really excited to see Bunraku."
The casting of the J-rock star came as a surprise even to his fans. Although Gackt Camui has starred in Japanese television drama and feature films, Bunraku is his first acting experience in an international-flavored movie to date. The involvement of the Japanese artist was officially announced on April 23, 2008. Camui came to the attention of director Guy Moshe through his role in the 2007 television historic drama Fuurin Kazan, a year-long series produced by NHK. In this series, he portrayed the heroic warlord Uesugi Kenshin, winning him accolades, not only for his acting performance, but also for the single Returner ~Yami no Shūen~ and the video for the same that were inspired by his role. Moshe went to Japan personally to entice Camui to join the project.
Also in the cast are Spanish actor Jordi Molla (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Blow), Japanese actor Shun Sugata (Kill Bill Vol. 1, The Last Samurai), Finnish Shooting Stars 2009 Samuli Vauramo (Beauty & the Bastard). Asked in a 2009 interview on the subject of his current projects in film, Vauramo revealed that Bunraku "was [his] first fully North American production. The role wasn't too big but, hey, you have to start somewhere. I got to do my own stunts. I got hurt, but it looked good!" 
Bunraku was filmed for 12 weeks at the MediaPro Studios located in the town of Buftea in Romania. In a 2009 interview, producer Ram Bergman was asked about the choice of the shooting location. " We needed a lot of stages available because the whole movie is green-screen and we had to build 30-something sets. We needed to take control of a space for five months... [Romania] was probably 10%-20% cheaper than Prague. We did not want to pay top dollar, like you would pay in London or, to a lesser degree, in Prague or Hungary... Media Pro Studios had the most stages available [in Romania]. Bergman also revealed : " We brought in heads of departments but the rest of the crew was Romanian.
Brazilian-born filmmaker Guilherme Marcondes, who worked for New York production company Hornet Inc., has been recruited to design the title sequence for Bunraku. Marcondes has directed spots for Diesel, MTV International, and Nickelodeon while simultaneously busting out tongue-in cheek animations and experimental personal projects. Marcondes was asked in a 2008 interview on the subject of his current projects :" I’m working on an opening sequence for a film called Bunraku...It’s more like a short [film] before the main feature, but feels completely integrated with the film. It’s an interesting project with a lot of animation techniques, and the director of the feature [Guy Moshe] is letting me do my own thing. A rare circumstance, so I’m glad to be doing it."