My Sundance housemate Frosty from Collider sat down with screenwriter Christopher Hampton recently and got the scoop on a movie that could be Frank Darabont’s follow-up to Fahrenheit 451: Tokyo Rose. Darabont, a well-known writer in his own right, is working with Hampton because he’s looking to be able to make more movies. Thus spake Hampton: ‘I said to him when we first met, ‘why aren’t you writing this yourself?’ and he said, ‘well you will have noticed that I am whatever age I am and I’ve made three movies. I would like to make some more movies and maybe I have to get someone to write them because it takes me so long.’’
Here’s Hampton’s take on who Tokyo Rose was: ‘ a Japanese American woman who was arrested in Tokyo right after the War, brought back to San Francisco, put on trial for radio propaganda and sentenced to eight years imprisonment and she was completely innocent. It was all a witch hunt. She was absolutely innocent and eventually – in the 70’s – she was given a Presidential Pardon by President Ford. I started off with a two hundred and something page screenplay because there was so much material and her trial happened to be the longest and most expensive in American legal history at the time – in the late 40’s. There were 54 volumes of trail transcripts, six thousand pages. So it’s all been…I’m slowly… the contours of the story are beginning to emerge and I’m starting to know what I can throw away and what I have to keep and what I don’t need.’
Tokyo Rose, real name Iva Toguri D’Aquino, was actually something of a major patriot. An American citizen in Japan taking care of her sick grandmother at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Iva was forced to work for Japanese radio alongside captured (and tortured) Australian, American and Phillipine army types. Despite being at the mercy of the Japanese, Iva refused to say or write anything that was anti-American. Her trial was a sham and a farce, and is a good look at how America can treat its minorities in a time of war.
Of course Tokyo Rose is suspended for the duration of the strike. Darabont wants to get on Fahrenheit as soon as the WGA and the studios settle, but we’ll see what happens next.