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. Written by
'Ran' is the Japanese word for chaos, riot, dissension. Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece is indeed a feast of destruction and perdition, charged with symbols and powerful in pictures like it is found very rarely in today's cinema.
The dusky story is based on Shakespeare's 'King Lear'. In the film a Japanese warlord celebrates his own downfall. Kurosawa devised this with a radical film language which works with certain imageries of colors, rapid cut sequences and a sophisticated sound design. When the colorful flags of the different armies get intermixed in a battle, when the peacefully quiet wind (which carries the soundtrack) swells to a raving storm or when long wide shots suddenly segue into shots of details that follow hot on each other's heels then you realize Kurosawa's incredible style which deeply influenced the cinema worldwide.
The drawings of the characters are equally terrific. Hidetora's jester is for a certain reason always at the side of the warlord. Their relationship alters as the film continues: Jester and warlord change their roles which makes it hard to distinguish both. Just as the sky turns from blue to grey with dark clouds, the violent past of Hidetora is catching up the aging lord. His trail of murder and predation is not forgotten, the brutally conquered land still carries the old scarves of war and exploitation which now burst out again.
The viewer can take this monumental work as a warning to the destructive power of war, which is even decades later at present and beset those who seed the violence.
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