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Ran - 31/7/2006 2:33:35 PM   
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Truly incredible!!! - 3/8/2006 7:56:42 PM   
Rich Empire


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From: London
Imagine a David Lean adaption of King Lear in Japan. Kurosawa's visal style lays to shame every battle scene i have seen in the last twenty years of cinema. Why? Just watch the film and you'll see. Beautiful, colourful, epic, tragic and unforgettable.
One of "The Emperor's" finest films in my opinion.
Don't be put off by the subtitles as some people are, this is a true masterpeiece. Essential.

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RAN - 27/11/2006 11:36:47 AM   


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From: Leeds
I've had this on dvd for some time now, and it really is as good as they say. Great acting, amazing story and awesome cinematography. A truely brilliant film, and a masterclass in film-making!! Absolute classic!!

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Ran - 30/9/2007 10:39:00 AM   

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Created with french financial-backing, Kurosawa's late career masterpiece, Ran, is simpy an unforgettable experience, and it truly stands alone in his canon, contaning new ideas and themes that he hadn't attempted before, while still summing up many of his own theories and undercurrents.
The film, paticularly in the mid-sections, with the furious battle at the castle, and the King's descent into madness, is compelling, and makes up for a few slight pacing blips towards the end of the film.
It never quite has the emotional impact of some of Kurosawa's other films, in paticular, his biggest masterpieces Seven Samurai and Ikiru, but it remains an experience that is both memorable and intelligently told.
The use of colour is sublime, some of the best I've ever seen. Many people make fuss about the colours of the Samurai's armours, but the use of colour is excellent throughout the film, in everything from the dull colours of the main castle, to the colour of the plains upon which the film ends.
Several of the performances approach something perfect- The King is simply unforgettable, incredibly acted, and the devious wife, as the article puts it, is a character you will remember forever- especially for her dubious, vampire-esque, seduction methods.
Kurosawa was approaching the end of his life here, but the film is just as tightly controlled and masterfully directed as his earlier films. The highlight of the film must be the Castle attack, with no sound effects or dialouge, just the raw power of the design and the state of the wounded, and the awesome score. This is the most powerful moment in the film, and left me open-mouthed. Not only is it directed at a level which can only be described as perfect, but it also has several intense moments, which are impossible to forget- the two women driving daggers into each other's back, an act of suicide at the devestation of their home, is simply unforgettable, and will remain with me forever.
I happen to think the ending isn't as strong as what has come before, having several late pacing blips, but that is a minor niggle.
It's probably fair to say that the final battle does not live up to the primal force of the Castle attack, but it's still a unique, exciting combination of colour, masterful directing and visual energy. It may not have the power, but these scenes are just as unforgettable as what has come before.
If Film-noir exploited the power of black and white cinema to it's fullest, stylistic high, than Kurosawa has done the same with colour here. The Cinematography is some of the best I've ever seen, and it left me in a state of almost complete amazement, full of bright colours, and unique vistas that are impossible to forget. Who can ever forget the final march across the plains? I know I can't.
All in all, this film may not be the Emperor's finest masterpiece, but it still deserves to be seen, savoured, and remembered with a clarity that most films could never hope to reach. 10/10

< Message edited by jamesbondguy -- 30/9/2007 10:46:00 AM >

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- 21/10/2007 1:19:03 AM   


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- 21/10/2007 1:19:03 AM   


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Better Than The Seven Samurai? - 20/6/2008 5:50:55 PM   

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Plot: A Japanese Warlord hands over his power to his three sons, but one of them dares to speak the truth, and is banished. The warlord soon begins to feel the consequences, and it takes a toll on the country, and his sanity.

King Lear is a masterpiece of literature, a tragedy of epic scope, a moving study of relationships and heartbreaking look at the downfall of the great. Ran, Akira Kurosawa’s version of King Lear set in feudal Japan, matches Shakespeare’s work thematically and emotionally, but adds to it, as well, stunning visuals, brilliant acting and a very distinctive style. It’s enough to silence anyone who would claim that Shakespeare is dull, and will certainly make people who avoid foreign cinema re-think their position. Ran is everything you could want from an epic.

What you cannot help but notice from the beginning the absolutely stunning visuals. It opens with some hunters sitting silently in the hills of Japan, and it is breathtakingly beautiful. The scope of what Kurosawa can achieve with colour photography is immediately evident, and it’s brilliant. Ever strong on symbolism, Kurosawa shows us an old patriarch of a boar getting shot down. What this represents becomes obvious fast. The characters are established in colour codes. Jiro, for instance, is the red son. This leads up to some incredible battle scenes, a blur of colours that would never have been possible in The Seven Samurai. Combining this with the awesome landscapes of Japan, and the meticulously shot and designed castles, and the spray of bright red at a decapitation (the best death scene ever) you get one of the best looking films quite possibly ever.

The characters are all believable and compelling. In the central role of the king gone mad, Hidetora is a heartbreaking figure, a warning to all that pride comes before a fall. The scenes between him and Kyoami are tragicomic, and as Hidetora slowly fades away, it is often bizarrely funny, at the same time as being sad. The best character is possibly the greatest female in cinema, Lady Kaede. Malevolent, psychotic, manipulative and wierdly seductive, she is the dominant, controlling force in the film. Graceful yet dangerous, Lady Kaede is a strong woman amongst hundreds of weak men, the only strong one banished. Saburo is the good son, the one not afraid to speak his mind, the Cordelia of the piece – he is one of the few likeable characters on show. All the subplots and minor characters are brought together masterfully to create an epic that despite the scale, is disturbingly human.

Yet in spite of all of this, Ran drags languorously through the middle act. At times it slows down, and the otherwise decent pacing is thrown off course. There are perhaps one too many shots of Hidetora with a mad look in his eyes, and one or two scenes are completely extraneous. However, epics are allowed to be slow from time to time, and many long films are in the canon of the greatest films of all time. Just look at Lord of the Rings. Not only that, but the character Kyoami can be incredibly irritating from time to time. Acting like a Greek chorus, commenting on the events of the film, he is sometimes an unwelcome presence in an otherwise dramatic scene. That said, he grows on you throughout the film, and in reality, this is a minor quibble in an otherwise stunning film.

So What I Mean Is: Ran is a gorgeous and glorious epic, with brilliant characters, surprising touches of humour, and a very human tragedy at its core. Don’t let the slower scenes put you off what is very possibly the most beautiful film ever.



ORIGINAL: Rawlinson

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RE: Better Than The Seven Samurai? - 3/7/2008 5:19:37 PM   

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A very honest review there swords, I am glad that you mentioned the fact that Ran looses a little of its speed somewhere in the middle and appears to drag, whilst this causes focus to waver slightly, it dosen't hinder the viewing experience as one might think.


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Ran - 29/11/2008 3:28:27 PM   

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From: USA
Brilliant, Stunning, Daring. Visually stunning and glorious. This Japanese version of Lear will stick with you for a long time.

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RE: Ran - 2/10/2013 12:25:06 AM   

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When I wrote about 'Seven Samurai', I said it didn't get much more 'epic' than that. Well it does, apparently, because this was absolutely awe inspiring. Epic in it's themes and it's scale, an overpowering experience that's impossible to shake.

It's adapted from King Lear, which admittedly I have absolutely no knowledge of apart from a brief google search I did before watching this. It isn't necessary to know about that before watching this though, quite honestly. Maybe not being familiar with the story added to this, but I doubt it. From what I gather this is very close to that story but certain elements have been changed and obviously the setting etc. I'm interested now in looking into the original story by Shakespeare, because the story is incredible.

It really is a tragedy, basically from start to finish. An old warlord decided his throne needs to be taken over by younger eyes and so splits the power between his three sons. It follows in an epic tale of betrayal, paranoia, madness, war, faith and most of all it's about humanity's flaws in general.

I'd like to mention the performances first, because they are immaculate. Full of larger than life characters (The old father and the son's wife especially) and played to perfection. The performance by Nakadai as the old father is seriously fantastic and complex and the film might not be quite as great without him being so good.

Right from the first scenes I knew what to expect in terms of the visuals and I was right in thinking it was going to look amazing. It looks more than amazing. It's shot in these large open landscapes that just make it feel so huge and overwhelming, and the colours are so bright and saturated that it almost doesn't look real. The sets are huge too, and the amount of extras for the battle scenes is insane.

Talking of the battle scenes, the centerpiece of the film is an amazing battle sequence shot silently with the moody and tragic score played over the top of it all. Blood is everywhere, body's and horses are falling all over the place, people commit suicide, tons of arrows fly past the camera and buildings are on fire. All the while, the old master sits in the middle of it all, consumed by what he's created and realising what he's done to himself and his family, and is driven to madness and shock by it. It's honestly one of the most powerful scenes I think I've ever seen, it left me pretty much in awe. I've seen tons of war movies, but I don't think anything comes close to this in showing the casualties and the psychological effects of war.

It could have come off as heavy handed, like something out of a Spielberg movie, but it's done in such an effective and overpowering way with such great thematic touches that I couldn't help but get completely swept up in it. Beforehand we see shots of the clouds forming over the kingdom and it's lord, blocking out the sky, definitely a sign of things to come and it all leads up to this scene, where the full extent of his actions and the consequences are made clear. The climax with the famous scene of the old warlord walking out in to a sea of soldiers who were trying to kill him previously, and the sea literally parting to let him through while he's in this hypnotised and maddened state is incredible.

Following that is a great look into the mind of someone that has descended into madness because of his own mistakes and hunger for power. There's a clear message here of there being a lack of anything higher up to guide us a race. Everything is of our own doing. As good and innocent people die including the character with the kindest heart in the whole film who is also a woman of great faith, we see that nothing can help these characters. The final scene is very powerful in that respect and hammers that message home, it's more subtle that you might expect for something that deals with those types of themes.

I'm a sucker for an epic film that's done properly, and my god was this done properly. I want to watch it again soon to take it all in properly, but it's an intense and insanely huge film that just takes you for a ride and overwhelms with it's enormous scope and depth. Incredible film.

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