Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Finished watching this a couple of weeks ago, and now I have a few minutes to post a few thoughts.

Please assume spoilers.

Hidetora Ichimonji is a retired warmonger. He's a local king who's conquered several estates in his lifetime, and now wishes to ease the burden of governing by handing over the throne of the Ichimonji clan to his eldest son. Disaster ensues, as the fruits of Hidetora's brutal career and his blind eye to his sons' faults overwhelm him, his clan, and his life itself.

Watching this soon after Kagemusha, I was struck by the deepening of its themes Kurosawa explored in Ran.

A son who throws away his father's legacy after his death? Now, we have two sons who conspire to destroy their father while he lives, and a third who's rebuke of him is so severe, his restored relationship comes into play only after it is almost too late.

Enemies partnering with superior technology to defeat you? Here we have the enemy burning down your impregnable castle around your head while the only weapon you have is an empty scabbard.

And so on. I appreciated how Kurosawa took the history lesson that was Kagemusha and transformed it into operatic tragedy in Ran. I like especially in the opening scenes, as Hidetora is handing over the reins of power to his oldest, foolish son. Hidetora speaks a platitude about how three arrows, bound together, are unbreakable. The two faithless sons nod in approval, "yes, yes, so true." His youngest, Saburo, impetuous and brash, promptly snaps the arrows in half using all his might. They splinter, fragments spraying out from the shafts randomly, and he throws them to the ground. That's stupid, he says, and so are you if you hand over your power to my brothers.

Wonderful exploration of the futility of revenge, as Lady Kaede, consumed with hidden hate, destroys all around her, including herself, to get back at Hidetora. Horrifying spectacle as Hidetora's castle refuge burns around him, only he survives and walks out of the ruin and through the beseiging armies like a ghost, his mind gone away with the billowing smoke.

So much more to say, as I reflect back on the film. I haven't even touched on the relationships of the servants who ultimately are more faithful than the elder sons, and on the concept of Hidetora's final reaping of what he's sowed.

I found this a harder film to watch that much of Kurosawa's earlier work--but all the more richer for it.

Edited by Buckeye Jones
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...

Got this in a mailing from Landmark Theatres:

Friday, March 5 – Thursday, March 11

RAN

New 35mm print!

Ran is director Akira Kurosawa’s (Rashomon, The Seven Samurai) twenty-seventh film. In its epic scale, stylistic grandeur and tragic contemplation of human destiny, it brings together the great themes and gorgeous images of the director’s life work. A brilliantly conceived meditation on Shakespeare’s King Lear, crossed with the history of Japan’s 16th-century Civil Wars and the legend of Mori, a feudal warlord with three sons, the film’s title translates as “chaos” or “turmoil.” Tatsuya Nakadai stars the Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji, an aging ruler who decides to abdicate and divide his land equally among his three sons, unleashing an intense power struggle as his sons and daughters-in-law scheme for power and revenge. A spectacular adventure punctuated by epic battle scenes, at the time of its original release Ran was the most expensive film ever made in Japan, with a visual splendor that’s still breathtaking today. New 35mm print in honor of the film’s 25th Anniversary. (Japan, 1985)

http://www.rialtopictures.com

Showtimes: Fri-Sun at 1:00, 4:30 & 8:00; Mon-Thu at 4:30 & 8:00

Usually I skip the press screenings for these re-releases. This one I think I'll try to get to.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

Link to post
Share on other sites

Usually I skip the press screenings for these re-releases. This one I think I'll try to get to.

Seeing Ran on a new 35mm print in a Landmark Theater would be an awesome experience.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to post
Share on other sites

how's that again?

RAN is my favorite Kurosawa film by a pretty significant margin (with DREAMS in a close second place).

all kidding aside, i love love love RAN. beautiful and brilliant.

I don't deny that there should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, to remind men that they are not dead yet. - G. K. Chesterton

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

how's that again?

RAN is my favorite Kurosawa film by a pretty significant margin (with DREAMS in a close second place).

all kidding aside, i love love love RAN. beautiful and brilliant.

And yet not on the new Top 100.

Last night was the screening. It wasn't in the NuArt as I expected, rather at the Landmark screening room. Still even a sreening room screen is big enough to make this special.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

As per the second thread on this film, Americans can apparently watch this film on Hulu now.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted this at 1:03 in a new thread.

I spent some time looking for an old Ran thread and couldn't find it... thus the duplicate.

Ran was the first Japanese movie I ever saw, and it kindled an appetite not just for more Kurosawa, but films of greater visual splendour than I’d was accustomed to seeing.Wouldn’t you know, just when I wanted to pick up the Criterion edition, it went out of print.

And then, lo… it shows up on Hulu for free.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Ran would have been a really hard first Japanese film. It's so full of pageantry, and stuff. I think the first Japanese film I saw was in college, an Ozu, and I slept through it. But years later I rented Yojimbo, and then I was hooked. But Ran would have been a challenge for me. So much stylization.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? I found this to be utterly engrossing from minute one on first viewing, right until the intensely moving final scenes.

The music in AK's films can sometimes be a distraction (the Brahmsian quality of 'Red Beard's' theme, the Bolero-esque nature of 'Rashomon's' music), but here I think Takemitsu's score is a perfect complement to the drama. I love this quote from Kurosawa's script, in describing the conflagration scene: “…a dreadful picture-scroll of Hell unfolds…The music accompanying these pictures pulses with deep anguish, like the heart of Buddha…Beginning with stifled sobs, the music repeats like the wheel of transmigration, gradually intensifying until eventually it sounds like the bitter wails of untold Buddhas.”

Wow. And please, please let's include this in our next Top 100 list.

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will always remember being glued to my parents' 27" TV, watching the muddy and overly window-boxed Fox-Lorber DVD, mesmerized well into the wee hours. The local arthouse is showing this in August, and I'm hoping to see it the way it was meant to be seen.

Edited by N.W. Douglas
Link to post
Share on other sites

And please, please let's include this in our next Top 100 list.

Yes.

I seem to recall a suggestion that filmmakers be limited to a certain number of titles on the list. If that's going to be the case, Ran wouldn't be my top Kurosawa pick, although I think the film is magnificent.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? I found this to be utterly engrossing from minute one on first viewing, right until the intensely moving final scenes.

I think that Ran is indeed engrossing, but not nearly as accessible as Kurosawa's work from the 50s and early 60s. As an introduction to Japanese cinema, a three hour operatic mash of King Lear, medieval Japanese history, and autobiography would not be my first choice. That's not a shot against Ran by any means. It's just like, I'm not going to reco a Bluebird Bitter to someone who's only had Bud Lite. Try a Fuller's first.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And please, please let's include this in our next Top 100 list.

Yes.

I seem to recall a suggestion that filmmakers be limited to a certain number of titles on the list. If that's going to be the case, Ran wouldn't be my top Kurosawa pick, although I think the film is magnificent.

I dunno, 'Rashomon,' 'Dersu,' and 'Ikiru' are on the current Top 100. I'd rank 'Ran' above the first two, and arguably above 'Ikiru' as well. The portrayal of spiritual desolation in 'Ran' is faultless and devastating (more potent than that of 'Dersu,' despite its more winsome lead characters), and it has music, color, and overall imagery enough to make most other films anemic by comparison.

FWIW, if I had to choose my favorite Kurosawa films on the basis of aesthetics, narrative, and matter for spiritual contemplation, I'd have to go with 'Ran,' 'Red Beard,' 'Rhapsody in August,' and 'Ikiru.'

Edited by Andrew

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ran is so different than Ikiru that's it's almost meaningless to try to objectively compare them. I think all that's left is personal preference. Since they're both excellent films in their own right, you get a nice result with either choice. I think I prefer Ikiru's positive sense of humanism to Ran's despair. Ran is more visually arresting, Ikiru is more intimate. Ran had that annoying jester, Ikiru has the annoying girl.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What Buckeye said.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Just saw the new print, which is as good as promised. Watching Ran is like relearning everything you knew about colour and motion.

And that ending... Stepping out of the theatre, I was hit by a chilly night breeze, the coolest I've felt in a while around these parts. It seemed more than a bit appropriate.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 years later...

Thanks Buckeye!

Ran has received a 4k restoration, and Studio Canal is now touring the film in the U.S.  Here is the official list of cities, and the dates Ran is being played.  I'll be seeing it at the Ahrya in two weeks.

 

 

 

kurosawas ran.JPG

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...