In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
Japanese warlord Hidetori Ichimonji decides the time has come to retire and divide his fiefdom among his three sons. His eldest and middle sons - Taro and Jiro - agree with his decision and promise to support him for his remaining days. The youngest son Saburo disagrees with all of them arguing that there is little likelihood the three brothers will remain united. Insulted by his son's brashness, the warlord banishes Saburo. As the warlord begins his retirement, he quickly realizes that his two eldest sons selfish and have no intention of keeping their promises. It leads to war and only banished Saburo can possibly save him. Written by
Akira Kurosawa's wife of 39 years, Yôko Yaguchi, died during the production of this film. Kurosawa halted filming for just one day to mourn before resuming work on the picture. See more »
During the first scene (while the Land Lord and his sons are hunting wild boars) the first shot that shows every single wild boar running in front of the camera is probably a single shot of the same wild boar repeated 3 times. See more »
What madness have I spoken? Wherein lies my senility?
Saburo Naotora Ichimonji:
I'll tell you. What kind of world do we live in? One barren of loyalty and feeling.
I'm aware of that.
Saburo Naotora Ichimonji:
So you should be! You spilled an ocean of blood. You showed no mercy, no pity. We too are children of this age... weaned on strife and chaos. We are your sons, yet you count on our fidelity. In my eyes, that makes you a fool. A senile old fool!
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Based on Shakespeare's King Lear, this film follows the story of the
aging warlord Hidetora who, in an attempt to restore peace, divides his
kingdom between his three sons - Taro, Jiro, and Saburo - and retires
from his duties. However, one of his sons sees this as unwise and is
banished by his father, leaving his two brothers in charge of two of
the three castles left in their hands. It isn't long before they are
overtaken by greed and eventually betray their father, leaving him in
the hands of a philosophical jester and a loyal retainer. This betrayal
ultimately leads to war, dividing the family and driving Hidetora
The remarkable script, which contains many of my favorite lines from
any film, still manages to break its way through the confinement of
subtitles and reveals itself to be one of the richest Kurosawa ever
wrote. He has obviously worked equally hard on the look and feel of the
film - the cinematography being excellent (example: the long,
continuous shot of Saburo's men charging on horseback across a river).
There's also something rather frightening about it that I can't quite
put my finger on. The first battle, which is the film's turning point,
is the most horrifying, yet strangely beautiful, battles ever filmed. A
good effect used is the loss of sound, with only Toru Takemitsu's
haunting score to be heard. The entire battle lasts less than ten
minutes and there is no uplifting or bombastic music to be heard, but
in my opinion, it's Ran's finest scene, and thus the finest scene ever.
What Kurosawa managed to get rather than give though was excellent
performances from his actors, none more brilliant than Tatsuya
Nakadai's Hidetora, Mieko Harada as Lady Kaede (a woman similar to Lady
Macbeth but with a different hidden agenda), and the strangely-named
Peter as Kyoami.
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