Ran ★★★★★

Kurosawa paints a gallery of striking images depicting desolation and isolation with the colors of royal extravagance and volcanic landscape. What would those amateurs at the Proletarian Artist's League think of him now? The scarlet blood of war matches the gleaming armor of the warriors, elegant patterns in robing and castle architecture juxtapose against the wilds of wasteland and wilderness. Purity of color and Noh theatrics amplify the corruption of its wearers: that of dismissing the truth which, in the moment, complicates and embracing the vanity which, in the moment, simplifies.

Among Fall of Man spectacles of the '80s, Ran's got to rank high. Kurosawa had the patricidal shogunate story planned long before King Lear came to mind, which goes to show as well as anything that Shakespeare tapped into a nature both timeless and universal. Mad Hidetora waking to a lingering shot of the swirling sky and believing it to be Paradise is a short breath of divine glory amid the comprehensive chaos (titular, that) of human glory. Tango's grief at a vengeful and vain mankind's collective affront to “the gods,” followed by the abandonment of blind Tsurumaru wandering ruins in perpetual dark, brings to mind Pärt's Slavonic choral:

“Adam, father of all mankind, in Paradise knew the sweetness of the love of God; and so when for his sin he was driven forth from the garden of Eden, and was widowed of the love of God, he suffered grievously and lamented with a mighty moan. And the whole desert rang with his lamentations.”

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