About Ran (1985)
With Ran, legendary director Akira Kurosawa reimagines Shakespeare's King Lear as a singular historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa's late-life masterpiece, a profound examination of the folly of war and the crumbling of one family under the weight of betrayal, greed, and the insatiable thirst for power.
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Just stick with it and you'll never forget it. The film takes a 180 degree turn and becomes more and more sinister, more compelling. With this I am mostly speaking about the blue son. Kurosawa spends much of the three hours on lavish images, yet he does not really develop what lies beyond the surface. Here, once again, Kurosawa reminds us that modern warfare is not a place of honour or duels, but massed attacks on faceless enemies, shooting each other from a distance.
If you want tragedy, there are plenty of decent Shakespeare adaptations on film. Butg lets get into the film. I must say while watching the film I struggled a bit with this character also how she uses her power and almost kills the red son out of nowhere.
A must watch for eclectic viewers and admirers of pristine cinema. It feels realisic. ' Death comes to us all, yet it is far bleaker than that. His abdication is also a lot sillier.
The battle scenes are a complete fail. For anyone who has read or is familiar with Lear, it is a story that is pretty much slogged through, though it is wonderfully told. Not to say that directors can't make great films when they're young, or in middle age, about a man in the dark days of the golden years (About Schmidt, Tokyo Story, Bob Le Flambeur, and Kurosawa's own Ikiru come to mind). But it's clear that Kurosawa must've seen or felt or understood at least an element of Hidetora's character, something that goes beyond tragedy that is stuck with all who are mortal. The movie tries to include many hints at traditional Japanese culture but these elements are exaggerated and don't seem authentic at all to me. Maybe I will increase it on rewatch we'll see. Any credible husband or brother-in-law would have given an order to execute her. The most obvious theme is that of war.
Hidetora is a smaller man than Lear; he has the stubbornness without the nobility. These are 5 brilliant movies in their own right that any director would want to have had their name attached to in any way, shape or form. First, Shakespeare wrote plays for a barren stage where the images grow from the mind, supported by super-rich language and interwoven visual metaphor. Extremely well, extremely well indeed. Even the moment of epiphany for Hidetora, when his actions achieve his madness, is one of surpassing beauty.
By now you know that this was made by a master filmmaker at the end of his life — in preparation for ten years and Asia's most expensive film.
In Ran, as was also the case in Kagemusha, which is a very similar film in time period and content, Kurosawa again employs a subtler style of directing. This lack of control seems to mirror the idea put forward by the only character who is continually able to tell the truth without ramification. There is something else distinctive about Ran. But that's what he has done all the way before that too because there is no reason to all the insanity in here. That's all folks.
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–Shelly “He who knows others is wise. This movie is linked inevitably with Akira Kurosawa, by many considered the finest non-American filmmaker of all time, and it is a late career effort by him. Every shot looks like a masterpiece, perfectly framed. And to end it all, finally a few words on the very last scene, the blind woman at the abyss. There is no action, no aesthetic and no emotion in those scenes. There are perhaps one (or even two) too many similarly grim scenes.
The Bad: The Master attempted too much in trying to match his cinematic virtuosity by swallowing Shakespeare's Lear to produce an equally rich story. Each shot is planned to precision, and each cut is made for a purpose. Just as the sky turns from blue to grey with dark clouds, the violent past of Hidetora is catching up the aging lord. You can see this by the inclusion of many supportive actors, excellent settings and especially many valuable costumes that are created with much detail. But while the sons are pursuing their violent path, there is a new threat rising with a women full of revenge. Being at the age of 75, he still showed us, he's one of the best in the business. It is then that he stumbles upon a blind man who was once the victim of his past savagery.
Unlike Lear, Ran does not give us a sense of the insignificance of Man in nature. Things get heated for the first time when the old patriarch kills one of his soldiers' sons who was about to kill one of the old man's guards. The film retains all the themes of the original play, but also thanks to Kurosawa's own input addresses a slew of even more varied ideas. He again is loyal to his Lord, however, he voices ideas of leaving his side numerous times, but again his sense of duty and even affection keep him with his master. (Out of which “Hero” is probably the most interesting with the moral and political questions it provokes. This is a work heavy on emotional nuance, on how the characters (in particular Hidetora) look unto their surroundings, how the presence of destruction and war and slayings are traumatic as opposed to being 'cool' in a stylistic way. His final words and actions show that and even if his body is ailing, his mind should not be mistaken for being gone. We see this theme throughout great literature and film. He is basically gone for almost the rest of the film after he is sent into exile by his father. While I feel the film was a bit disappointing, I'm more disappointed in myself for not being able to like it as much as I would have wanted, since it has had such amazing reviews. Little time is spent on character development, except with the scheming wife of the first son (a story element that has little Shakespearean counterpart). Lear is a play about demons and leaves the question open as to how many are from opportunistic devilment and which are internally generated. He achieved a sort of gerotranscendence with his later films, shifting to a more transcendent vision of the world. “Ran”, which means translated “Revolt”, bit this is not really used as a title for this film, is a Japaese/French co-production from 1985, so it will have its 35th anniversary next year. Indeed, it seems that Kurosawa only matured into a “serious” artist in the years leading up to and after his failed suicide attempt.
Akira Kurosawa (1910-1997) was responsible for elevating Japanese cinema to a front-runner in world cinema. (In King Lear, they were daughters, not sons, of course. The film is quite colourful and beautiful to watch. If Kurosawa deserves praise for look of the film, the pacing, the editing, every single painstakingly storyboarded (painted) shot, and his direction with the two battle sequences as well as with the quieter, more compelling scenes with the actors, the man who plays Hidetora deserves some as well (like any production of King Lear, including Godard's wild treatise with Burgess Meredith in the lead role, the actor is as important as the writer). Tatsuya Nakadai, who had roles in past Kurosawa films as a young man in Yojimbo (the gunslinger) and Sanjuro (the opponent), is awe-inspiring.
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“Ran” begins with a gorgeous sequence, director Akira Kurosawa treating us to several shots of soldiers on horseback, perched like gargoyles on a series of grassy hills.
Ran is the story of Hidetora Ichimonji, a powerful Warlord in feudal Japan. After all, there is nothing monstrous or unnatural about the daughter-in-law's attitude towards Hidetora; she just wants her back, and with reason. To give you an example, the interpretation of Lady Kaede or the annoying fool are well done from an objective point of view.
It must also be noted that because of the lingering, ponderous, “epic” pacing of this film, it goes on for twice as long as it should. It's all at times very hokey (subtler in Japanese? He employs the most basic and yet most artistic of techniques. Once the jester and Hidetora are inside, the man explains that he will offer hospitality in the only way that Hidetora left him able, he will play them music on his flute. Again, a musical score is entirely absent throughout the vast majority of the film, and the same lengthy scenes are employed to a large extent to communicate the story of the film. Due to council given by a traitor, Lord Hidetora has led his household, which includes 30 warriors, to the castle of the outcast Saburo. Not knowing Japanese, I cannot judge how rich or intricate in metaphor is the film's dialogue. Visually, It might be his most distinctive. But just like Shakespeare, there is humor, irony, death and not a happy ending. It is his slowest picture. Forced to directly confront his past, his self image no longer based on illusions of heroism and glory, Hidetora promptly becomes a tormented spirit. Akira Kurosawa had given the world so much throughout the 50's and 60's: Seven Samurai, Throne Of Blood, Ikiru, Rashomon, Yojimbo to name a few. Being in color opens a lot of doors to cinematography, and makes it easier to see how much artistic creativity went into the sets and costumes. Instead, there is a strange emotional feeling generated. I'm not an expert of Japanese history but from what I have seen from other movies, read from several books, known from history lessons and heard from Japanese that I could meet, many of these scenes don't seem realistic to me at all if I think about the severe code of honour of this country. The first battle, which is the film's turning point, is the most horrifying, yet strangely beautiful, battles ever filmed. 'Ran' is the Japanese word for chaos, riot, dissension. By the film's end we've thus witnessed a grand cycle being reset. It involves the first battle sequence, in which one of his son's comes to take over a castle, and killing all of Hidetora's men. It is not my favorite Kurosawa, but it is very much worth watching. His two elder sons accept the proposal with rapturous glee, but his youngest son seems bemused and questions the wits of the patriarch for taking the untimely decision. If you have watched Ran, you can read or write the film review on Ran on IMDB. And let us know whether you liked the film or not at the comment section below..