Mieko Harada as Lady Kaede.Great Lord Hidetora cries over Saburo.

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Ran

Ran (乱, "Chaos") is a 1985 film by Akira Kurosawa, based on William Shakespeare's King Lear but set in Sengoku-era Japan. more...

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The film is believed by many to be one of Kurosawa's finest. It has been hailed for its powerful images and expert use of colour, and won the Academy Award for Costume Design in 1985. The distinctive film score was written by Toru Takemitsu, and in many scenes replaces normal sound - particularly in a battle scene when a rival besieges Hidetora's castle, setting it afire.

Plot

In the film, the character of King Lear is replaced with Ichimonji Hidetora, the Great Lord, an aging warlord. Instead of daughters, he has sons: Taro, Jiro, and Saburo (who is the equivalent of Shakespeare's Cordelia). Hidetora decides to give control of his kingdom up to Taro, the eldest son, while Jiro and Saburo will be given the Second and Third Castles. Jiro and Saburo are to support Taro. However, Saburo criticizes Hidetora's plan, claiming that he is a fool to think they will be able to get along peacefully. Tango, one of Hidetora's servants, comes to Saburo's defense. Hidetora banishes both of them.

Eventually Hidetora is alienated from his sons, and he is forced to live alone with Tango and Kyoami, the fool. Jiro conquers Taro, and is then himself conquered by a rival warlord who has aligned himself with Saburo. In the end, Hidetora is reunited with Saburo, but Saburo is killed by one of Jiro's gunmen, and Hidetora dies of grief.

The film also involves many intricate subplots involving betrayal and violence within families, and highlighting the vanity and falseness of courtly life.

Background/Production

Kurosawa said that all of the technological progress of the 20th century had only taught people how to kill each other more efficiently, and in this film he shows that forces of violence and destruction, once unleashed, destroy all in their path:

"What I was trying to get at in Ran, and this was there from the script stage, was that the gods or God or whoever it is observing human events is feeling sadness about how human beings destroy each other, and powerlessness to affect human beings' behavior." -- Akira Kurosawa

Ran is a film that Kurosawa had in mind to film for many years, but the 73 year-old director had fallen out of favour in his own country and found it impossible to find funding for such an epic and costly film. Nevertheless, while he was unable to continue making films in Japan, his reputation in the west was much higher and he was able to receive funding from European and American producers such as Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas (who would finance Kagemusha), Stephen Spielberg (Dreams) and Serge Silberman, who allowed the director’s long cherished project to be finally put on the screen.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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