Ran (1985)
October 14, 2022 8:00 AM - Subscribe

At the age of seventy, after years of consolidating his empire, the Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai) decides to abdicate and divide his domain amongst his three sons. Taro (Akira Terao), the eldest, will rule. Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu), his second son, and Saburo (Daisuke Ryu) will take command of the Second and Third Castles but are expected to obey and support their elder brother. Saburo defies the pledge of obedience and is banished.

Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Written by Masato Ide, Akira Kurosawa, and Hideo Oguni. Based on William Shakespeare's King Lear.

96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently available for digital rental in the US on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (5 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Kurosawa wanted to show why Hidetora/Lear goes mad, as he felt that it was never well explained in King Lear. He wanted to give Lear a history, that Lear's power came from a life of very bloody savagery to acquire that power. His kingdom is held together by the fear of that power, and dividing it up among his sons invites destruction.
The actor Peter, portraying the fool, was a well known Japanese television personality and drag queen performer.
The scene where Kaede seduces her brother-in-law and forces him to kill his wife is breathtaking; the actress Mieko Harada went on to win nearly every acting award in Japan.
The third castle, built on the slopes of Mount Fuji for this film, cost about $1.6million (then), to be burned down in the spectacular finale. Kurosawa was terrified that his actor, Nakadai, would stumble walking down the very steep steps, but he didn't, "...staring sightlessly like a sleepwalker or a madman. "
According to director Kaizo Hayashi, Kurosawa wanted Toshiro Mifune to play Hidetora, but was overruled by the producer at Toho Studios as too expensive. It's unconfirmed, but makes sense; the studio refused to completely finance Ran and so money came from a variety of other international sources as well. The following year, Toho Studio spent the equivalent of the entire Ran budget on a remake/sequel of Godzilla.
posted by winesong at 10:46 AM on October 14, 2022 [12 favorites]

Breathtaking cinematography.
posted by SPrintF at 2:08 PM on October 14, 2022

All I can ever remember is spending a gap-year like summer around 1993 going back and forth the the library every other day with a stack of books, CDs, and movies. Watched every Kurosawa film they had. They were all always so just beautiful.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:14 PM on October 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Available on Kanopy, if your library has it.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:39 AM on October 16, 2022

This is a frikkin' masterpiece. Should be required viewing in HS.

Breathtaking cinematography.

Until you've seen the initial Fox Lorber DVD release. It looked like a VHS dub - quite possibly the worst-quality DVD release ever made. Thankfully, the grown-ups at Criterion fixed things.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 3:17 PM on October 18, 2022

« Older Movie: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile...   |  Book: Poet of the Appetites: T... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments