Based on William Shakespeare's King Lear, Ran is considered one of the greatest war films of all time. Fittingly the 4K release coincides with the 400th anniversary celebrations of William Shakespeare.
In the final years of Kurosawa's beautiful creative mind, he saw fit to create a colourful landscape within the Japanese hills as a small family dispute with far reaching scope takes over the country.
Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai – Yojimbo, Kagemusha) an ageing warlord who, after spending his life consolidating his empire, decides to abdicate and divide his kingdom amongst his three sons, Taro (Akira Terao - Letter from the Mountain, Dreams), Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu – The Man in White, Red Shadow: Akakage) and Saburo (Daisuke Ryû - Tono monogatari, Gojo reisenki: Gojoe). When Hidetora’s youngest son Saburo voices concerns about the wisdom of his father’s plan, claiming that treachery within the family will be inevitable, Hidetora mistakes these comments for a threat and banishes him. This allows Taro and Jiro to take the reigns of power unopposed, leading to a brutal and bloody struggle to win absolute power.
The richness of the colour palette is on display from the first meeting of Hidetora as he decrees over his sons his wish to pass on his kingdom to Taro - while the warlord oversees all in his glorious white robe his three sons sit in the primary colours of blue, yellow and red. Saburo sits in red which is the
colour of red and anger, and his banishment prompts the kind of bloody that 16th century civil war is
Kurosawa was always known for becoming the first Eastern director to have his work transported and transplanted to the West and most especially the American Hollywood system in particular the western genre where his work was impressed upon John Ford and Howard Hawks. Famously, his film The Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven in 1960.
Yet perhaps the influence of Western Hollywood cinema came back to Kurosawa, in particular the huge epic sweep of films like David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia and Richard Attenborough's Gandhi.
Majestic in its scope and a finale to a tremendously creative career which proved that film language can be universal in garnering an international appreciation of his work, Ran stands a fitting monument to Akira Kurosawa's career.
Studiocanal/Independent Cinema Office (ICO) re-issue the film on a 4K restoration in UK cinemas on April 1st, with a Blu-ray/DVD release on May 2nd with a wealth of bonus features available