Ben Daniels’s review published on Letterboxd:
After watching this film I have concluded that Akira Kurosawa is a genius. I mean, I already did after watching the masterpiece that was Seven Samurai, but this sprawling epic somehow manages to become superior to something that has no inferior, a masterpiece outdone by an another.
Ran is an incredibly powerful film, unmatched in it's ability to move the audience. We sympathise with a character we know we shouldn't and begin to learn from him. Forgiveness over battle and urge. If we swallowed our pride and just let our instincts go, there will be peace. These people were too proud, did not trust their fellow man. Thus it created war. Trust bought about the potential of a greater peace, but also war, and a lack of that manifested it.
The film greatly correlates problems going on at the time in 1985. It's a very Mandela-esque mantra, to forgive bloodshed, to move on, and this was an era crazy on the late leader. People say by reflecting on similar issues on the past/future we can identify our own in our time easier. This is what Ran has achieved. It is still relevant today in many places, unfortunately, that this story of greed first conjured up in 1606 is as reflective of society then, as it is now, over four hundred years later.
The review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the cinematography, which I shall say with certainty that it is some of the best and most beautiful ever put to film. Originally making films in black and white I think had an effect on Kurosawa, colours are extremely vibrant through Ran and the melange of hues just creates an absolute feast for the eye.
Witnessing the genuine amassing armies of thousands of soldiers dressed in firm, black samurai armour, riding upon noble horses on the steep, vast and fertile hills is a sight to be seen. You are transported back to 1500. Everything is so real, it breathes. It commands you watch. It's unrivalled in it's pure compulsion.
Ran is truly incredible. This sort of masterpiece would never, ever be made in 2013. Firstly, those battle scenes would create a havoc for health and safety, it never would have been allowed to film outside Japan, which is known for it's relaxed rules on such issues.
Secondly, CGI would just be the easier option than developing one of the most expensive films the country ever produced. Could you imagine this with CGI? Never. That's simply why computer graphics will never bring out such raw power and emotion like seeing the real thing does, and why Ran could never have been made today. The best thing we can do today, however, is to appreciate this gone masterpiece as what it is, one of the greatest films ever made.