New Game of Thrones? First Version of Shôgun Hit TV 44 Years Ago – You Won’t Believe It!

The novel “Shogun” by James Clavell was first made into a series in 1980, starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshirô Mifune. This is a look back at this impactful television series.

From February 27, Disney+ has been offering its subscribers a journey into 17th century Japan with Shôgun, its brand new original series. This ambitious historical production features a British ship commander who is shipwrecked on Japanese shores. Held captive, he catches the attention of Lord Yoshii Toranaga, who is in a power struggle with other clan leaders for control of the local shogunate.

Adapted from a Best-Selling Literary Series

Shôgun is based on a best-selling novel by British writer James Clavell. Known for his work as a screenwriter (he co-wrote the script for The Great Escape), he also published around ten novels, six of which make up his Asian Saga. Shôgun, which is the fourth installment in the series and also the most famous, was quickly picked up for a TV adaptation by NBC in 1980.

The production tried to convince Sean Connery to play the role of John Blackthorne, but he declined as he didn’t want to work in television. After considering other actors, the role was eventually given to Richard Chamberlain.

For the role of Lord Toranaga, the series managed to secure the legendary actor Toshirô Mifune. A favorite of Akira Kurosawa, his fame extended beyond Japan, earning him a successful Hollywood career. However, the portrayal of Shôgun was seen as caricatural and sometimes anachronistic, drawing criticism from the Japanese public.

The trailer for the first Shôgun series:

A New, More Realistic Version!

Despite the criticism, the mini-series was a huge hit. It catapulted Richard Chamberlain to stardom and earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor, while the series itself won the Emmy for Best Mini-Series in 1981. Over the years, the show has been rerun multiple times, including on French television.

In the new adaptation of Shôgun, Cosmo Jarvis (Peaky Blinders) plays John Blackthorne, with Hiroyuki Sanada (John Wick 4) as Yoshii Toranaga. This version is closer to the novel and has a significantly higher budget, offering viewers a stunningly realistic and visually breathtaking spectacle.

The new Shôgun series can be watched exclusively in France every Tuesday on Disney+.

Check out the list of series currently available on the platform!

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