Ran ★★★★

Ran (1985), directed by Akira Kurasawa is an adaptation of King Lear. In typical Shakespeare fashion, power, lust, wrath, and betrayal consume the hearts of men as three brothers vie for control over there father’s kingdom. 

It’s considered to be one of Kurasawa’s greatest films, and for good reason. The cinematography, acting, music, use of colour, and costumes are all superb. It’s an “epic” film in every sense of the word. Of course, being based on a story by the great bard, Ran also features so many ideas and observations on the human condition. 

Ran is two hour, and forty minutes. I’m not sure why, but it felt longer, and was a bit of a slog at times. There’s nothing I would consider removing, almost every scene is glorious to behold. I suppose it’s because it was hard to root for any of the characters, and despite some incredible battles, the film lacked urgency.

In the end, I walked away feeling great admiration for its set pieces, use of extras, and every other element that created such powerful images. Nevertheless, I cannot love it, for example in the same way I do Seven Samurai, or Dersu Uzala. 

I’m happy for Kurasawa for creating such an impressive achievement at the end of a long and successful career. For whatever the reason, I didn’t feel it as much as I hoped, but I have great respect for Ran, it’s essential cinema, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.

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