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
'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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