A story of greed, a lust for power, and ultimate revenge. The Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji has decided to step aside to make room for the younger blood of his three sons, Taro, Jiro, and Saburo, the Lord's only wish now being to live out his years as an honored guest in the castle of each of his sons in turn. While the older two sons flatter their father, the youngest son attempts to warn him of the folly of expecting the three sons to remain united; enraged at the younger son's attempt to point out the danger, the father banishes him. True to the younger son's warning, however, the oldest son soon conspires with the second son to strip The Great Lord of everything, even his title. (Source: IMDb) Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
The plot is based on Shakespeare's "King Lear" and tells the story of Lord Hidetora Ichimonji, who decides to pass on his power and empire to his oldest son after deciding to retire. The division of power between the sons eventually leads to chaos.
However, the storytelling is far from chaotic. The film has many themes such as of greed, power, hatred, revenge, lust, guilt etc. and yet, Kurosawa manages to create a perfect balance between them. This could have been a messy experience but there is no doubt why Ran is considered a masterpiece. Kurosawa did not only adapt the work of Shakespeare but made it his own.
You cannot watch this film without noticing the cinematography. At times, I think about the fact that Kurosawa spent his filmmaking career making movies in black and white and yet he was able to use color to create such a breathtaking visual experience where color plays an important role in the storytelling, such as differentiating the characters and clans. The long shots and the vast landscapes, everything is carefully planned. The action sequences as well are mind-blowing, well choreographed and just heart pounding. It is incredible to look at, to say the least.
To talk about the acting, the entire cast shows strong performances that are hard to to forget. Especially Nakadai Tatsuya as the elderly warlord Hidetora Ichimonji. He is a great and extremely convincing actor and his portrayal of his character here did not fall short in any way, it was incredible. My personal favorite performance however was by Harada Mieko as Lady Kaede. This character is someone that I think you are supposed to despise but in my personal opinion, her actions are well motivated. The way she is turning a tragedy to her advantage and systematically manipulates, I was in awe.
If I had to point out only ONE thing that could be seen as negative for some, is that it is slow paced, especially in the first act. However, I think everyone should give this film a chance. It is one of the best, if not THE best historical epic ever created.
The acting is excellent, and Tatsuya Nadakai as Hidetora Ichimonji is far the best actor here, totally stunning, you can see his transformation, his fall, his descent into madness. I also loved Lady Kaede, a scheming woman is really refreshing after seeing so many Mary Sues in the dramas I tend to watch.
Ran has also beautiful sceneries, costumes and music, you can see the perfection and detail of production.