Ran

Ran ★★★★★

Akira Kurosawa's final masterpiece. His late-career passion project that was inspired by Japanese warlord Mori Motonari and Shakespeare's King Lear, but just as much inspired by his own views on impending morality, a feeling exasperated by the death of his wife of 39 years.

An ancient warlord who had tight control of his kingdom is about to pass his power down to his three sons. Immediately one is riddled with arrogance and jealousy and is admonished from the family. From there, another son is immediately killed, giving absolute power to the third, and all hell breaks loose.

The realization of disastrous failure that befalls Lord Hiderato, played fittingly by longtime Kurosawa alumn Tatsuya Nakadai, hits him about an hour into the film, where the film's scope explodes from cinematically minimal small scale shots, mostly photographed like a stage production and devoid of closeups, into one of the most beautiful, amazing and devastating war scenes to ever be captured on film.

As things spiral further into hopelessness, Hiderato bears the full burden of guilt. Everything he has prepared for was being held together by a facade of order. And he is not even allowed the benefit of relief that his ways at keeping peace were correct, as he meets of series of people whose lives he had destroyed through his torturous dictatorship.

There is so much happening in Ran I cannot even begin to sum it up. A dystopic observation on the nature of humanity. A lot of it is about the peace of dying in a world that will remember you well and you feel you contributed to at the expense of what you may be able to gain. But a lot of Ran is pure and simply that war is absolute hell

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