A classic tale of rivalry and greed.
- Ran review by CP Customer
This Japanese epic based on Shakespeare's King Lear tells the tale of an aging Japanese aristocrat named Lord Hidetora who divides his land between his three sons. As predicted by the youngest son things soon go wrong and overwhelmed by greed and rivalry the sons declare war on each other and as his family self destructs Lord Hidetora descends into madness. If you've never seen an Akira Kurosawa film before then 'Ran' is a great place to start. The acting is great, the battle scenes are spectacular, and the cinematography and use of colour is simply breathtaking. If you're a fan of Shakespeare, Japanese cinema or just great films in general then 'Ran' is a must see.
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful.
- Ran review by NW
I am shocked. No-one quite managed to tell me how good this film is ... how stunningly powerful. Shakespeare would, I fancy, have loved it. It lacks, of course, so far as I can tell from sounds and sub-titles, his ingenuity and beauty of language: but this is a different medium: the poetry of words is replaced, and at least equalled, by the sharpness, the beauty and the effect that is achieved visually.
There are, however, further strengths in Ran which are possibly not matched in Lear, as well as some possible flaws to which I shall return later. While the setting is a mythical one, it did, I felt, give me a deeper insight into actual Japanese historical culture and sensibility than I had had before. It also touched moral and philosophical depths - and posed problems - which I have never quite felt that Lear reached. Lear, I have felt, takes a rather stylised set of social conventions as its basis and does not go beyond the personal consequences to examine the more political ones ...
This is surely not the greatest film I have seen, but within its context I cannot recall praising another so strongly. Kurosawa is, it seems, one of the few directors who can use both colour and a wide screen without being overwhelmed by them and he presents battle scenes, where - as so rarely - you can follow what is going on both tactically and strategically and can understand the lie of the land. On the other hand ... this is an impressively lavish production and also a rather long film, at 155 minutes: it can carry this, but I increasingly feel that directors and producers should be more restrained and hold films to tighter limits. (Unless it is Bollywood with a lot of songs and dances!) Further, Kurosawa does seem to dwell rather more than is seemly on extended violence and gore - facing reality is healthy; wallowing may be unhealthy! You need it, though, to appreciate Japanese history fully …
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.
- Ran review by JO
I saw 'Ran' 20 years ago and remember the powerful, striking imagery throughout. It has retained its power to captivate and enthrall the viewer. The story is a retelling of King Lear although the setting has been transposed to ancient feudal Japan and instead of the aging King bestowing his land on his daughters Kurasawa decides to make sons the beneficiaries. Kurasawa cannot rival Shakespeare's ingenuity of language but there are some deeply poetic speeches in 'Ran' and it may be more impressive in the original Japanese rather than the English translation. The performances are excellent. Nakadai is both commanding and humble as the proud King but equally impressive is Mieko Harada as the scheming wife of Ichimonji (the second son). The film's first battle sequence is worth the admission ticket alone: it is one of the most grisly yet beautiful set-pieces of any film I've seen. An astonishing technical achievement, 'Ran' ranks as one of Japanese cinemas greats.
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