#130: Ran (1985)

When and how did I watch this?

May 28th, 2016, on Hulu Plus.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Eastern King Lear redo by Kurosawa.  I really enjoyed Throne of Blood, and I had been familiar with “Macbeth” but knew nothing about King Lear. I was looking forward to a similar caliber of film.

What do I know about it now?

It’s a powerful and colorful adaptation of the Shakespeare classic, full of tension and violence. The movie seems to focus a lot on family and honor, I would guess more so than Shakespeare did, who typically focused on miscommunication and human error in most of his tragedies. Although simplistic, what really worked for me was how quickly Kurosawa establishes the characters — about 20 minutes in, I had already picked out “favorites” and became familiar with their personalities and faults. The settings are breathtaking, often set in barren landscapes and tranquil environments in contrast to the harsh situations involved. The battle sequences are all superbly done, full of extras and effects and tons of color. Tons of moments — I had a difficult time finding just one feature picture for this post. It gripped me from start to finish.

What are some themes in the film?

Honor, betrayal, marriage, family, trust, legacy, destiny

Did this affect me personally?

No doubt about it.  The insane mental decline of the emperor, while occasionally hyperdramatic, stuck with me and made me care about his demise along with his children.

Why is this ranked #130?

Kurosawa is clearly a Japanese film legend, and is well deserving of any position on this list.  Those who have seen his films would agree. Ran is almost identical to Throne of Blood, but in terms of dialogue delivery and screenplay, much more mature.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She found it equally gripping, though the violence was a little much for her.

Would I watch it again?

Yes! This is certainly a replay film, but I wouldn’t watch it at a party or when I’m trying to relax.  It runs like a good book.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It’s an important film from this director.  It would behoove you to take a look at it.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  There’s no real argument here.  All of the peripherals (sound, costumes, effects) are perfect, illustrating the director’s focus on details. As mentioned earlier, the tension is there, and all of the intangibles are present.  This is truly a masterpiece.

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