Ran

Ran ★★★½

As someone who doesn't really gravitate towards the samurai subgenre, I was still really hoping that this would be the film to truly blow me away. Definitely doesn't reach the level I was hoping for (based on the average rating and all that), but this is really good for what it is. I can complain about the excessive number of characters, but that is more of a personal preference than anything.

If this film were more grounded, I'm sure I would love it even more, but Kurosawa was never going for that. The way the family drama unfolds succeeds for the most part, and I found a lot of depth in all three of the brothers' characters and how their thirst for power eventually consumes them. It's really interesting to see how their arcs play out, but I'm not sure that I felt the full emotional effect, given that it was a samurai costume drama and all.

Kurosawa's composition and use of color is unparalleled in this film. The first battle scene where Hidetora walks away from his burning castle while the two sides of yellow and red soldiers part to let him walk is jaw-droppingly beautiful. This is a huge reason why I was still able to stay invested in the film, despite its long runtime. I found myself confused by Seven Samurai a lot, because I sometimes just literally could not differentiate the samurai apart since they all had the same goddamn hairstyle and they were always wet from sweat and rain (and there were SEVEN main characters, goddamn). The way he color-codes the three brothers' armies as red, yellow, and blue is SUCH a plug, and makes it so much easier to visually track each group of people, since the scale of this film is so massive. The practical stunts in this film were truly impressive.

In an alternate universe, Kurosawa would have added a scene of Lady Kaede sitting on Jiro's face to assert her sexual dominance.

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