Rashid N.’s review published on Letterboxd:
BRUH NO ONE WARNED ME THAT THIS WOULD BE THAT DEPRESSING 😭. I never expected to cry during a historical epic. I really thought this would be some cool action-packed epic and while it is that (not very action-packed though), it's also so much more than that. The dark depressing nature took over within 1985's Ran, a film I had called my most anticipated for multiple months and let's just say that it delivered. In fact, this very "most anticipated film" delivered so well that it cracked my top 10.
Based on the date, you may notice I watched this before Akira Kurosawa's birthday but it feels fitting that my reviews for Kagemusha and Ran have come out on the magnificent director's birthday. Maybe I should have saved Ran for this very day, the 23rd of March, but I don't regret a thing because seeing it on the 10th allowed me to experience this marvellous masterpiece even earlier. I also sort of...forgot about his birthday haha.
The late Japanese director was known for adapting the works of William Shakespeare while also relocating them and changing the time period. That was no different with Ran. Adapted from "King Lear", Kurosawa's final grand epic was a true spectacle for everyone, from when it was originally released to now. And of course the iconic director managed to craft a soaring masterpiece such as the film at hand but what is so insane to me, and most likely many others, is that Kurosawa made this intense, emotional, colourful, and masterful film when he was in his 70s and practically blind and that isn't even mentioning the unfortunate passing of his wife during the middle of production. All this only went to showcase the dedication and brilliance of Kurosawa and the amount of respect I have for him is unimaginable.
Everything in Ran feels methodically planned. Every single little detail felt as if it had already been set in motion right from the start. This was brought to my attention through YI JIAN's review and whilst that sort of thing would usually make a film feel overly-constricted and restrained, with Ran, it felt...perfect? I think at that point in time, Kurosawa was so experienced in filmmaking that even if one of his films had every detail planned beforehand, his prowess and experience would come in to craft a true piece of art that didn't feel restricting and that is indeed what occurred!
One more aspect I must discuss is the depressing nature of Ran. I briefly brought it up at the beginning of this review and only discussed it on the surface level for Kagemusha so getting into it, Ran is sad boy vibes for 3 hours and it hurts. I cried more than once. Without trying to get into spoiler-territory, I'll say that the realism affected me thoroughly. Pain all around. While Kagemusha was a critique of Japanese hierarchy, Ran went much further. The hierarchy took sort of a backseat yet it was still as prevalent as ever. Both are also character studies that work so damn well. Rich in depth, Kurosawa really brought "King Lear" to life in a spectacularly horrifying way. Though, I haven't actually read "King Lear" so take that with a grain of salt. Kurosawa has inspired me to read Shakespeare's work thus, I'm thankful to the legendary director. I'll get to the books "eventually". God I am in love with this film and Kurosawa. Just how do you make a film this simultaneously exciting and depressing?