Saturday, 19 March 2016

I've Just Seen: Ran (1985)

Ran (1985)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Every now and again you watch a film that is so great, that you know it to be so in the first ten minutes. By this point, the catalyst for the story is revealed, and even if you can see how it shall ultimately end (in death and pain), rather than switching off and groaning 'Boring,' you lean forward eager to watch it unfold. This is how I felt seeing Kurosawa's Ran.

Few films are so perfect in almost everyway. While the acting is different to traditional Western styles, the theatrical nature aids in reaping emotions from the audience. The story's similarity to Shakespeare's King Lear, with a suggestion of Macbeth, makes this even more pertinent. The music and cinematography are exquiste, giving operatic flair to this familial tragedy. The film's length is not a burden, but instead an opportunity to spend time in this world of loyalty, parental authority, passion and revenge. The famous battle scene at the film's heart is one of the best ever committed to film, with the combination of orchestral music, bold colours and Kurosawa's masterful compositions regarding movement: the horizontal arrows, the wiggling army banners, the swirling movements of the army phalanxes, the frantic scurryings of fear of Hidetora's entourage to the sudden stillness of death.

Clearly I loved this, and I can't imagine anyone at least not being impressed by the execution of a familiar story. There is no excuse not to see this. As perfect as film gets.


  1. The only knock I've ever heard against Ran is that it's slow and takes too long to get to the end. I, of course, disagree. For me, it's like finally getting to see what Kurosawa would have done with Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, or Yojimbo in color. Sure, the plot is good and the acting is top-notch, but to be able to see the pageantry of these military columns in color? Such a beautiful film!

    1. The opening shots are beautiful; the tableaux of the soldiers on horses, with the green mountains behind them. Ah, fabulous!

      I didn't find it slow either; if anything the pace allowed you to really appreciate the images. Kurosawa was as great an editor as he was director.