(Review originally written at 13 July 2009)

Over the decades Akira Kurosawa has always maintained his own directing style and approach of a story and characters. For this he got acclaimed mostly throughout his early career, when he made movies like "Kakushi-toride no san-akunin", "Shichinin no samurai", "Rashômon" and "Yojimbo". Many people however seem to forget that Kurosawa never stopped making great movies. Reason why his later movies aren't acclaimed as much is because they were all less revolutionary and refreshing, while his earlier works was still very much unlike anything else and influenced lots of western film-makers.

The story is told in a typical slow Kurosawa way and also itself features lots of typical Kurosawa approaches and angles in it. The story itself is based on Shakespeare's King Lear, set in the early days of a small Japanese lordship. It has themes such as power and greed in it, which also provides the movie with plenty of intriguing characters, who all have their own agendas throughout the movie. It's characters, themes and definitely the directing of it all is the reason why "Ran" works out as a great Japanese epic.

The movie often doesn't use to many words to tell its story but the words that it does pick are effectively and carefully chosen. The movie tells the story slowly and things take a while to unravel. But ultimately in the end it turns out to be all very rewarding, like so often is the case with movies being told in such a specific manner.

It's a grand movie, with big looking settings, set in the natural environment and on the in- and outside of some large constructed castles. The movie also has lots of extra's in it, of course mostly during its big battle sequences.

It's a very stylish movies, of course mainly thanks to Kurosawa's directing. Kurosawa was almost completely blind at the time of making this movie but it didn't prevented him from delivering a visual masterpiece. Each shot and every frame are carefully thought about it seems and everything is planned out and executed into the smallest detail. The movie used three different cinematographers for some reason, who all provided the movie with some beautiful as well as powerful shots.

A great late Kurosawa epic!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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