I could think of no better way to close out this Kurosawa-a-thon. Ran is one of the director’s last true masterpieces, epic in scope (and in length), and it never once ceases to amaze even with its running time. If you’re not a fan of long movies, or you just can’t sit through them, I hesitate to scold you, as you really can’t be judged so, but in the face of Ran, you need to find some way to get over this facet of yourself, because this is absolutely required viewing by anyone who considers themselves a disciple of film. This is the work of a true master, decidedly, and needs to be viewed as such.
After a feudal lord relinquishes his power to his eldest of three sons, a battle of power between the three sons begins as each tries to stake his claim to the throne. The film was partly inspired by accounts of Sengoku-era warlords, as well as partly by Shakespeare’s King Lear, furthering Kurosawa’s Shakespeare bent in his epic films. Even with the inspirations, Kurosawa easily makes the story his own, putting his signature touches and bold strokes on display with the craftsmanship of this film (fun fact: Kurosawa storyboarded the film with paintings). I was excited to get into this one, as it features Kurosawa in color, and the film did not disappoint; the scenery is just so lush and beautiful, as are the shots themselves, and Kurosawa’s use of color not just in the cinematography but in the production and art design as well is remarkable. The performances are very well done; none of that grunting, forced dialogue that seemed pervasive in past Japanese films (well, very little), and the script itself is much better as well, not purely expository or start-and-stop, but with a flow that suggests natural dialogue, albeit specifically stylized and appropriate for the setting. Even the minimalist score adds so much to the experience, even (and especially) during the times when it is not present.
There were so many times during this film that I was just awestruck by the masterful filmmaking that was taking place; just the sheer scope of what Kurosawa accomplishes here is mind-boggling, and it is all cut to absolute perfection. I feel almost the opposite of what I felt after Throne of Blood; there is just too much to say here to really cover what Ran is all about and encompasses, so I will have to begrudgingly cut this short and just say, watch this film if ever you get the chance. Watch it; you will not be disappointed. I wish someday that I could make a film as utterly superb as this.
Arbitrary Rating: 10/10
P.S. Happy 500 reviews!