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Like Kagemusha, Ran was only able to be financed with help from abroad, in this case France. Kurosawa’s last great epic film this, like so many of his other films, is set in the 16th Century but this time the director has drawn, once again, on Shakespeare for his inspiration, and the story is a re-working of King Lear, with the three daughters of the original replaced by three sons. Keeping the bare bones of the original, Kurosawa once again revels both in the pageantry and colour of his battle scenes and in the personal tragedies of the characters involved in what is obviously a pointless conflict. The word ‘ran’ means ‘war’ or sometimes ‘conflict’, but Kurosawa said at the time he was reaching back to the word’s older meaning – ‘chaos’. It’s a pessimistic film in which the director’s constant theme – the difficulty of upholding human values – results in apocalyptic destruction. Of particular interest is the character of the Fool, who is played by Peter [Shinnosuke Ikehata], who at the time was well known as a transvestite and singer. Again, Tatsuya Nakadai plays the leading role, that of the elderly ruler whose plans for transition to the next generation are foiled by greed and stupidity.
- David Stratton
Presented in association with The Japan Foundation, Sydney Film Festival and ACMI.
RAN Rights/DCP Source: Studiocanal.