It was viewed by an estimated audience of 130 million viewers. Clavell acted as executive producer for a one million dollar fee; he also co-wrote the screenplay with Eric Bercovice. In 1981, a highly compressed version of Shogun was released as a two and one half hour movie. Of note is the fact that Clavell insisted that, for the sake of authenticity, the Japanese speak their own language with no subtitles provided. Thus, the viewers, as Blackthorn did in real life, had to deduce the meaning of verbal exchanges from the context of individuals reactions and facial expressions, or from re-phrasing by one of the English speaking characters. Also in 1981, Clavell wrote an introduction for The Making of James Clavell's Shogun. An illustrated, large format book that relates the trials and tribulations involved Shogun, based in part upon a true story, is a detailed portrait of feudal Japan in the process of becoming a nation-state dominated by one ruler. It depicts the very different attitudes of seventeenth-century Japanese and Europeans toward sex, food, drink, and bathing, and the very different perspectives that allow each to learn from the other.
The novel is Clavell’s finest effort, a forceful, gripping portrait of gradual acculturation; we see the European sea captain Blackthorne (based upon the real-life HYPERLINK "https://www.