Ran ★★★★★

Kurosawa has been an elusive director for me, all of his films I have enjoyed and considered well made but non of them really struck me. That is to say that once the credits rolled I acknowledged I watched something good but didn’t connect or enjoy it enough to really think about it much longer. However, I feel like I have written this intro about directors I find elusive many times before, and this time, like all the other times, it is to preface the fact that I finally found a film of theirs that takes the extra leap. 

Ran is without a doubt a towering masterpiece and might very well be my favourite “epic” to date. 

Ran is a literally a tragedy of Shakespearian levels as it is Kurosawa‘s interpretation of King Lear. Starting from a peaceful discussion on a grassy mountaintop the film brutally works its way down into utter destruction, bloodshed, rubble, and tragedy. It’s a confrontational and brutality cynical portrait of humanity’s worst tendencies painted with the most stunning colours Kurosawa could get his hands on. 

The contrast between the presentation and the subject matter is stark. It’s as if the film is constantly reminding us what a shame it is that all this violence is occurring amongst all this beauty. Some of the visuals in this film are nothing short of goosebump inducing. It’s fitting since no epic can be complete without towering frames that feel epic in their own right and this film is not short on supply. 

There a few good guys but that doesn’t mean the characters aren’t endearing. Even with the most brutal of intensions there are characters like Lady Kaede who you can’t help but root for. Or the relationship between Lord Hidetora and Kyoami which contains some of the more emotional moments of the film. 

Ran’s perfection can be found in every frame all the way down to its final ones which act as the perfect exclamation point on Kurosawa‘s masterpiece.

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