QuentinByrne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ever since I watched Seven Samurai, which was my first Kurosawa film, I fell in love in his work. There's something about the way he creates his films that really resonates with me.
Sometimes when I sit to watch a movie it can be really difficult to focus. Sometimes I start to feel depressed and anxious, the feeling of melancholy starts to go through my entire body and I'm unable to enjoy myself. I frequently pause movies and I struggle to get through them. As a huge film fan, it really sucks. However, this never happens when a Kurosawa film is playing.
There's always a lingering feeling of beauty in every shot of his films and it really inspires me. When I watch his work, I'm filled with hope, wonder, and I'm always completely sucked into the stories he shares with us. Ranis the sixth time Kurosawa has given me that feeling of wonder. From the moment I hit play until the film faded to black, I was completely sucked in.
While Kurosawa directed three films following Ran, it's considered to be his last "epic" and the film completely lives up to that title. From the cinematography, sound, sets, and music, everything about Ran is epic. I'd go on and on about the epic scale Kurosawa captures, but it's something everyone should experience for themselves.
I also have to give the writing and creative decisions behind this movie a bunch of credit. Successfully adapting Shakespeare has proved a challenge for many filmmakers. Kurosawa is one of few exceptions. A lot of the time Shakespeare adaptations fail to modernize the original work. I've noticed a few trends like the early modern English, locations, and preservation of original concepts that all lead to a dull viewing experience in most Shakespeare adaptations. Kurosawa completely breaks those rules and puts a new twist on each Shakespeare play that he has adapted. Not only does Kurosawa ditch the early modern English dialect, he ditches most of the dialogue all together and focuses on a visual recreation of Shakespeare's plays. Focusing on the visual medium seems like a given considering the switch from play to big screen, but it's an area most adaptations fail to deliver on. I'm glad Kurosawa was able to properly adapt the original work with a new visual focused take. This change also shows how deeply Kurosawa's understanding of the filmmaking process is. The unique 16th century Japan setting is also a welcome edition to the original work. With all of this said, I can now happily say that Ran is my favorite Shakespeare film adaption.
I'd like to add one final thing before ending my review. I've recently been reading Kurosawa's book Something Like an Autobiography and I can't recommend it enough. Early in the book he mentions that so many of his role models left their audiences without anything to remember them once they've passed away. Kurosawa decided to write a very personal autobiography to avoid that feeling from his own audience and I'll forever be grateful for it.
After watching Ran I'm making it my goal to finish Kurosawa's filmography. And I can say for certain if anyone ever asks me to name a film that lives up to the word "epic" Ran will definitely be making the top of my list.