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2 reviews, 28 user ratings

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by iF Magazine

"Never give your power over to your sons."
4 stars

RAN, directed in 1985, was the last film that Akira Kurosawa directed that approached greatness.

Based loosely on Shakespeare’s King Lear, RAN tells the story of an aging lord in 16th Century Japan who divides up his kingdom evenly to his three sons and gives sole power to his eldest son who, in a short time, totally screws up the kingdom. What ensues is a heedless series of familial strife, unrepentant warfare, bloodshed and death. In short it leads to ‘chaos,’ which is roughly what RAN translates to in English.

The most striking thing about RAN is the way it looks. Few films have ever had such a delectable palate of luminous colors. RAN was Kurosawa’s 27th film but only his fourth in color so it is as if he decided to go for broke and create a colorful dreamlike world.

The editing and the shot selection too are specific to Kurosawa. He brilliantly uses stillness and silence in many scenes and the edits are quick and precise but not in the way that an American war picture are.

The new print looks fabulous letting us clearly see the stunning shots that Kurosawa and his two great cinematographers, Takao Saito and Masaharu Ueda, achieved. Stylistically, they often use a telephoto lens to bring the background closer and make it part of the scene. And the camera rarely moves, instead – in the battle scenes especially – Kurosawa holds a still shot and has characters, horses, arrows and other objects-of-war zooming by in a blur. In this way he gets the speed of war down to an aesthetic blur.

He too uses music in an ironic way. During the first battle scene -- when almost everyone dies a horrible bloody death – the only sound on the soundtrack is Mahler’s first symphony. A symphony that is so mellow it virtually subverts what would normally be a brutal scene; instead making it poignant.

The actors – especially Tatsuya Nakadai as Lord Hidetora and Mieko Harada as the eldest son’s scheming wife – are effective even if they do overact a bit. Kurosawa directed his actors in RAN to either move around awkwardly and quickly thus making them look really comical or he directed them to be completely still as if they are Buddhist monks in prayer. The dichotomy of their movement and non-movement really adds something to the instability.

What is Kurosawa’s message? Perhaps he in emphasizing the melancholy of the end of an empire and an era. Most likely though his main message has more to do with human nature. His message seems to say that if you’re the ruler of a country, no matter how old you are, as long as you can still walk, talk, think and take care of yourself -- never give your power over to your sons.-- Matt Langdon

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2397&reviewer=119
originally posted: 02/22/01 18:46:19
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User Comments

4/13/15 slick never hear this movie so? 2 stars
2/08/10 bored mom Great adaptation of the Japanese epic. (The King Lear thing is just a shitty coincidence.) 5 stars
11/23/06 Josh Racine Very powerful and beautiful to watch. 5 stars
5/21/06 Joshua Powerful and heartbreaking. 5 stars
4/21/06 Reklc Stunning masterpiece, sad and beautiful! 5 stars
9/26/05 Anthony Cobban Eternal 5 stars
8/24/05 ES Run Ran and Read it- excellent symbolism 4 stars
4/18/04 Gobsmack An amazing film. 5 stars
4/07/04 ELO Hell of a movie! 5 stars
12/13/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Fucking excellent battle scenes. The decapitation at the end is the best part. 4 stars
12/07/03 Sammy Be patient young grasshopper... For the battles and the overall movie is great. 5 stars
8/07/03 3man Outstanding movie 5 stars
7/28/03 DM Kurosawa's second or third best- and that's saying a lot. 5 stars
4/25/02 Charles Tatum The unappreciative Japanese wouldn't recognize genius if it bit them 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver A classic. 5 stars
2/11/02 Me no one can do it better 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk The best adaption of Shakespeare came from the land of the rising sun. Who would've thought 5 stars
6/02/01 Rico awesome cast,scenarios and beauty.Powerful but dark&grim. RIP Kurosawa san. 5 stars
5/20/01 skye finally got a chance to see it on a big screen! my wife fell asleep - go figure 5 stars
4/19/01 John Rice one of the greatest films of all time by one of the greatest directors 5 stars
2/18/01 Michael Grimm i wish American directors were this good 5 stars
2/17/01 The Bomb 69 yoohoo voted one star because it was #1 on top 20 list, never saw it fuckin asshole!!! 5 stars
2/16/01 yoohoo I didn't like this 1 stars
2/15/01 The Bomb 69 masterpiece in every sense of the word, breathless, upset when it ended 5 stars
9/19/00 Jeff wonderful version of King Lear 5 stars
4/21/00 Tony O A delight for the eyes, Ran is a visual masterpiece. Every frame is perfectly shot. 5 stars
10/24/99 russ This movie is freakin' awesome! Great battles and characters and everything! 5 stars
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  02-Jul-1985 (R)
  DVD: 22-Nov-2005



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