Ran ★★★★★

Slowly chipping away at my must-see-on-big-screen list, and it feels glorious. The sumptuous 4K restoration was enough of a draw already, but seeing this movie tower over me is exactly how I needed to rewatch it. It brings new impact to, for example, that scene in which Hidetora finally reunites with Saburo, but when snapping out of his lunacy he does not recognize his son first. He looks up. He comes back to reality. What he recognizes, now, is the sky. The camera is pointed straight up, and in the theater the sky looked almost as expansive as the real sky.

Ran is a film that, if nothing else, exemplifies quality filmmaking. This film is a contendor, in my books, for best stunts, best action scenes, best music, best editing, best story, best directing, best cinematography, best sound design, best acting, best special effects, best set design, best costumes, even best location scouting. Then only quibble I think I may have is that when the script strays from exposition (which is handled beautifully 100% percent of the time) to moments of thematic expounding, the dialogue can get a little shakey. Only during rare moments, and never something intolerable (cough like Ikuru cough).

I can never decide if this or High and Low is my favorite Kurosawa. I have the same problem with both of them- they're just too strong to handle everything at once in my mind. Ran is one of those few films that sucks me in so deeply into the collosal epicness of its story that the little eyes I keep on the side of my head to analyze movies as I watch them close shut. I went into this viewing wanting to leave with some smaller revelations- which I love making; most of my fondness for favorites like Rear Window and 35 Shots of Rum come from the small observations that stuck with me- but I managed only a few. I noticed a shot where Hidetora first arrives at Jiro's castle. We see the door in establishing shots as being huge, and Kurosawa shows us Jiro's men struggling to open the door. But then we get the shot of the door opening to reveal Hidetora, and Kurosawa shoots at a discreet low angle with an extreme telephoto lens against a very plain and distant background, so that Hidetora now seems almost as tall as the doors.

Also, holy shit the horses must have been a hassle for the crew.

But other than that, I was too busy trying to keep my jaw from the floor during the more arresting moments. This is a movie that EARNS it's tragedy and EARNS its epic attitude. There are scenes in this film that are mini-religious experiences for me (partly due to Kurosawa's innate ability to some how control the weather). Ran film that doesn't leave me any doubt: this is one of my favorites. This is a 5 star film.

Seanzie "No More Time for Movies or Sleep" liked this review