Ran DVD Review

R3Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai) is an warlord that is coming to his twilight years. He wants to abdicate and pass on his rule to his sons Taro (Akira Terao), Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu) and Saburo (Daisuke Ryu). They however seem to be unsure and Saburo expresses concerns about the transfer of powers. This questioning of his rule, upsets Hidetora and he banishes his youngest son from his kingdom. This triggers a bloody civil war and brings all manner of vultures to the feast.

R2I must start this piece by saying that although I have seen many Kurosawa films this was the first time I saw Ran. Yes I know that it must seem strange but I was never sure. It is a work based on Shakespere and yes I liked much of Kurosawas previous films but I was always having it on the pile and never got round to it. That was thankfully changed by the new release of this masterpiece of cinema. It is powerful, poetic stuff and it deals with a very complex story with grace and intellegence. Even leaving you in awe of the artist that made it.

R4The film is a key work in a considerable career. Akira Kurosawa understood the classics and often made films that were reworkings or meditations on them. He reflected on contempoary issues or his own personal life within these works and here is no exception. Taking the canvas of the great bard and one of his mammoth works, King Lear, Kurosawa ran with it. He reflects on his own aging, infighting for control of the film making process and the concerns of a legacy that was out of his control, as it had been handed to those younger and removed from him.

R1Ran also has the other themes that are present in his works. Nature and its many variations, father-son relationship and of course the explosive and often repetitive use of violence. Kurosawa also often placed larger than life heroes in role where they had to be challenged and here is no exception. What I took away from it however was its extrordinary use of the visual. The colour balance, deep of field, use of staging, cool and dark spaces and vast open ones. This all for me made a sharp impression on the way I have seen his work till now. Detail is a part of cinema and film form and here it is used to often enchanting effect.

R5So we know the film is excellent but what about the DVD? Well the transfer is clean and clear. I havent seen the previous versions but the restoration feature on disc 2 is revealing. The interviews help with exploring the directors vision and the casts route to the character. I have to say that the Blu ray would seem the better choice but the film on its own is so worth investing in.


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