This documentary will be included as part of the Criterion Collection DVD edition of Ran (1985). See more »
In this kind of shooting, the first pitfall to avoid is appropriating a beauty that does not belong to us - to play up the lovely, backlit shot. Of course, some of that borrowed beauty will come through anyway, but we shall try to show what we see the way we see it, from *our* eye-level.
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How to make a very good film out of somebody else's masterpiece
Akira Kurosawa's RAN is generally regarded as one of his very best films. It is clear by the amount of critical praise it received (not to mention it's IMDb top 250 status) that it is regarded by many as one of the director's most challenging, audacious pieces of work. It's King Lear filtered through the simplest, most daring Akira Kurosawa one could figure, with compositions that stay with the open viewer long after the film ends. It is with this in mind that Chris Marker- avant-garde director of films like La Jetee- takes on Kurosawa's film for his own documentary project. Like Kurosawa's film, there are some deliberate shots as well, plus narration that sometimes tries for the poetic and sometimes misses.
But its own straightforward, unique qualities parallel those of the film in the film. One example of its difference to a film like Lost in La Mancha is that here the audience has more hindsight as to the actual course of the film (completed) and that it leaves room for any kind of interpretation in presentation. Take when Marker focuses squarely on the images of make-up, the heavy metal costumes for the extras, and the everyday dialog that goes on with people that are taken for granted occasionally amid the filmmaker's own vision of a scene. They're shown in very matter-of-fact ways, as to not obtrude too much into Kurosawa. There are some curious, odd cut-backs to a room with a TV, recorder, and other things that Marker uses to cut away to from the location shooting, which can be hit or miss.
It's seeing the Japanese master himself making this film, and what goes into it, that keeps in fascinating throughout. It's one of the more awe-inspiring films about real modern film-making around.
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