, he transposes the King Lear tragedy to 16th
century Japan and feudal warfare. The title Ran
translates literally as "turmoil" or "chaos," though it can also mean "rebellion" when used as a suffix in Japanese. All of these connotations apply as warlord Hidetora Ichimonji divides his empire among his three sons. Distrust and betrayal, greed and ego, power plays and revenge all influence the disastrous events that follow. Madness beckons, and religious principles become factors in the conflict.
Kurosawa, 73-years-old when he directed Ran
, spent a year achieving the film he desired and spent $12 million, a hefty sum for the mid-80s. Kurosawa repeatedly said his best film would be his next one, but after making Ran
, that title became his answer. I would never quarrel with such a sensei.
is exhilarating in its riot of color and movement, its alternation of energy and stasis. The battle scenes are compositionally magnificent and thrillingly staged. The art direction surpasses superlatives. As essay writer
the wonderful Japanese film critic Donald Richie has explained, Noh drama influences Kurosawa's choices. Richie cites the ostentatious, gorgeous costumes; their long sleeves that gracefully sway and swirl to punctuate assertions; the hats and mask-like faces. Similarly, the music and sound reinforce the heightened, stylized drama that is also powerfully personal and painful. Kurosawa said that Ran
was "a series of human events viewed from heaven."
There is not a dull moment in Ran's
160 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles. At Webster University's Winifred Moore auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 2nd
through Tuesday, July 6th
and then again on Thursday, July 8th
. For information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or you may go to the web at: Webster.edu/filmseries