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Why did Studio Ghibli send Harvey Weinstein a samurai sword?

In the last few months Harvey Weinstein has been outed as a serial predator that used his power to abuse women in Hollywood.

Dozens of women have come forward to condemn Weinstein’s sexual misconduct since the news of the first accusation broke last October.

Weinstein’s fall has sparked a whole movement, loosely known as “#MeToo”, which creates awareness about the widespread prevalence of harassment, particularly against women in the workplace.

But long before Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct, he was already regarded as a bully with a bad temper who would slice and dice films as he saw fit.

A book called Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, by author Peter Biskind published in 2004 claimed that Weinstein was given the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands”, due to his tendency push directors around and demand cuts of films.

Weinstein may have had his way in Hollywood, but when it came to dealing with Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli, things were a little different.

Studio Ghibli is best known for its Academy Award-winning film Spirited Away, but it has produced a long list of masterpieces including My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Castle in the Sky.

The Guardian reports that in 1997 Studio Ghibli’s director Hayao Miyazaki signed a distribution deal with Disney.

Disney had owned Weinstein’s Miramax since 1993 so Weinstein allegedly ended up in charge of the US release of Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.

Studio Ghibli responded by sending Weinstein a samurai sword with a note attached to it reading “No cuts.”

“Actually, my producer did that,” Miyazaki told The Guardian with a chuckle. “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.”

Weinstein must have backed down because no cuts were made to the US release of the film.

“I defeated him,” Miyazaki concluded.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter