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A film that'll haunt the minds of creative artists today
"Ran" is perhaps one the best films of all time. The film is an adaptation of William Shakespear's classic play, "King Lear." Ran tells the story of a powerful sixteenth century Japanese warlord, Hidetora Ichimonji(Tatsuya Nakadai), whom decides to retire and give his three sons his land by dividing it equally amongst them, but leaving his eldest son, Tarotakatora (Akira Terrao), as the main ruler of the three kingdoms. Falling prey to false praises from his treacherous sons Tarotakatora and Jiromasatora (Jinpachi Nezu), King Hidetora feels comforted in his decision. However, his youngest son, Saburonaotora (Daisuke Ryu), is banished by the King because Saburo was the only one who cared about his father to tell him the harsh truth. Backed by his own selfish pride, Lord Hidetora witnesses the brutal truth that Saburo was right. His kingdom collapsing around him as his two eldest sons fight for power. And Lady Kaede (Mieko Harada)who is wife of Tarotakatora, has her own plans of seducing the two eldest sons into destroying the entire Ichimonji throne. "Ran" is basically a tale of arrogance, greed, deception, and violence. Unlike most films of today, "Ran" will leave an everlasting impression on anyone who sees it. Using great imagery that contains so much symbolic meaning. Like the blind character, Tsumaru (Takeshi Nomura), at the end represents how we in a human society are often blindly following the same path of evil. Since seeing this film, I couldn't stop thinking about it. With it's epic battles and its' orchesttra, it'll keep viewers hearts pumping in suspense during some of the film's intense moments. As for the actors themselves, they were all great. However, the two performances that stood out for me was Tatsuya Nakadai and Mieko Harada. Their spectacular performances in the film will have viewers clamoring for more. "Ran" is an epic masterpiece.
Akira Kurasawa is a pure genious. Taking a classic play of Shakespeares into a Japanese epic, works very well. Kurasawa used many techniques that film makers use today that won't be forgotten because of this film such as the rotating camera. Sure, he first used it in "Rashomon", but he perfected with this one. He even took a chance by using western style orchestra music to enhance the battle scenes. Many people questioned this method, but it worked out rather brilliantly. Every time the orchestra plays, it'll have the audience in suspense. Kurasawa was a true visionary, and that's why he'll always be one of the world's greatest film makers.
However, where would this film be without performances by great actors. Sure, I could go on for hours talking about all the actors' performances, but I'll keep it short and say that the two that stood out were Tatsuya and Mieko. Mieko had this strong presence about her whenever she was in the film. In scenes like where she threatens Jiro, the audience is able to feel the intensity and the hatred in her eyes. I've never seen a woman on screen play a wicked psycho so convincinglng as she has. As for Tatsuya Nakadai, what is there to say other than without him, this film wouldn't have been as moving. Tatsuya does a great job playing Lord Hidetora. In scenes where, he had to play his character from being sane to becoming insane and back will horrify audiences in shock. Yet, he's able to do so convincingly that the audiences are able to see the Lord's progression into madness all in one scene. Tatsuya was purely a great actor for this film.
Using great imagery, Akira is able to create a powerful film. Everything from the settings and color help create a symbolic tone for the movie. In one scene, Jiro's guard warns him about Lady Kaeda using the lady fox demon story, but he's ordered to kill Lady Sue (Yoshiko Miyazaki), Jiro's wife, by Lady Kaeda. He returns only with a statue of a fox head. As Lady Kaeda opens the bag, the way the fox head rolls out onto the floor to face the camera is symbolic to the guard's warning. This and many others help the audience feel the darkness of the tragedy of human perception. Even in the battle scenes as Lord Hidetora hides in his third castle as his men are slaughtered, and the castle is burning around him. It's symbolic how the burning castle he's in represents his world crumbling around him which also helps the viewers to see Hidetora's decent into madness.
"Ran" is just spectacular. Using great imagery, direction, and performances, it's no wonder this film is a classic. I absolutely loved every minute of this film. Not a moment went by that I wasn't held in suspense. "Ran" is timeless film for the ages.