Ran ★★★★★

You spilled measureless blood. You showed no mercy, no pity. We too are children of this age, weaned on strife and chaos. We are your sons, yet you count on our fidelity. In my eyes, that makes you a fool.

Kurosawa molds King Lear and Macbeth into an epic calamity of his own design, where violence begets violence until the land drowns in vengeance, ambition, and corpses. Every shot of Ran is a vivid canvas painted with vistas and cloth and blood. My biggest surprise was realizing what I had assumed to be the grand finale was merely the nightmarish midpoint. The film’s two battle sequences are astounding artistry, jaw-dropping in terms of technical scale and filmmmaking precision; Kurosawa ensures these surging waves of men and mayhem are always visually clear through purposeful colors and meticulous compositions, always hauntingly resonant in their human impact. 

But it’s the scathing venom between the warfare that makes Ran unforgettable. The characters, each seething with emotion as lifetimes of turmoil reach this fateful crescendo. The dialogue, dripping with poetic hate and tragic madness. Tatsuya Nakadai is mesmerizing as the elder Hidetora, the great and terrible warlord reduced to a discarded shade, eyes gleaming behind his mask of spectral agony. Peter’s Kyoami the fool, whose lyrical verses become piercing truths amid the chaos and insanity. Mieko Harada as Lady Kaede brings the Macbethian enmity, towering as both a sympathetic victim and an electrifying force of cunning revenge.

Glad I finally crossed this masterpiece off my watchlist.

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