4.7 21
Director: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Akira Kurosawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu


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Ran is Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's reinterpretation of William Shakespeare's King Lear. The Lear counterpart is an elderly 16th-century warlord (Tatsuya Nakadai), who announces that he's about to divide his kingdom equally among his three sons. In his dotage, he falls prey to the false flattery of his treacherous sons (Akira Terao and Jinpachi…  See more details below


Ran is Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's reinterpretation of William Shakespeare's King Lear. The Lear counterpart is an elderly 16th-century warlord (Tatsuya Nakadai), who announces that he's about to divide his kingdom equally among his three sons. In his dotage, he falls prey to the false flattery of his treacherous sons (Akira Terao and Jinpachi Nezu), while banishing his youngest son (Daisuke Ryu), the only member of the family who loves him enough to tell him the unvarnished truth. Thanks to his foolish pride, his domain collapses under its own weight as the sons battle each other over total control. Kurosawa's first film in five years, Ran had been in the planning stages for twice that long; Kurosawa had storyboarded the project with a series of vivid color paintings that have since been published in book form in England. The battle scenes are staged with such brutal vigor that it's hard to imagine that the director was 75 years old at the time. This 160-minute historical epic won several international awards, but it was not a hit in Japan, and it would be five more years before Kurosawa would be able to finance another picture.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Akira Kurosawa's last great period film may also be his grandest. While not as innovative as Rashomon or The Seven Samurai and not as lean as Yojimbo or Throne of Blood, 1985's Ran (literally translated, "Chaos") is a film utterly colossal in both conception and execution. Loosely based on Shakespeare's King Lear, the story follows the tragic chain of events set in motion after the aging warlord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) divides his hard-won kingdom among his sons. Warfare and treachery follow -- the latter instigated by the vengeful Lady Kaede (Mieko Harada) -- as the exiled and hunted Hidetora confronts the ghosts of his bloody past. Kurosawa injects the Western source material with Buddhist perspectives on redemption and forgiveness while capturing the proceedings with dazzling visuals that are both beautiful and horrific. No less attention has gone into the performances: Nakadai's haunted Hidetora and Harada's spiderlike Kaede rank as some of the most unforgettable creations in the director's oeuvre. With enough gripping human drama to match the colossal size of its battle scenes, Ran is not merely one of Kurosawa's grandest accomplishments but one of cinema's as well. Volk Lindsay
All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
Overwhelming in scope and magnificent in visual style, Ran is less an adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear than an amplification of its themes of greed, betrayal, and honor. Though set during the turbulent Muromachi period in Japan, the film achieves a surprising universality by perfectly marrying style and content. Master director Akira Kurosawa distilled the play and stripped it of its numerous lengthy speeches (Kurosawa accused Shakespeare of being too wordy). In their stead, he packed the film with images pregnant with resonance and visual poetry. Deftly employing all of the techniques associated with his long career, Kurosawa creates a powerful portrayal of a kingdom coming apart at the seams through such techniques as dynamic, painterly compositions that emphasize depth of field; striking, expressionistic color; and brilliant sound design. In one scene, Kurosawa confronts the viewer with a silent, dream-like montage of human brutality: concubines committing ritual suicide, soldiers porcupined with arrows, spilling blood, and grisly dismembered limbs. In that same scene, the ghost-like Hidetora, Kurosawa's Lear, witnesses the armies of his two sons, one bedecked in brilliant yellow, the other in equally vibrant red, clash on the black slopes of Mount Fuji. Few films have imbued battle sequences with such beauty and with such horror. Tatsuya Nakadai gives perhaps the finest performance of his long career as the former vainglorious tyrant who slowly fills with shame and regret as his world comes crashing down, while Mieko Harada is flawlessly ruthless as the revenge seeking Lady Kaede. A brilliant cinematic feast ten years in the making, Ran proved to be the last masterwork by one of the greatest filmmakers.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

"Art of the Samurai": interview with a Japanese art-of-war expert; "Akira Kurosawa: The Epic and the Intimate": Documentary on the director ; "A. K.": Feature-length documentary from director Chris Marker; "The Samurai": Documentary on Samurai art

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tatsuya Nakadai Lord Hidetora Ichimonji
Akira Terao Tarotakatora Ichimonji
Jinpachi Nezu Jiromasatora Ichimonji
Daisuke Ryu Saburonaotora Ichimonji
Mieko Harada Lady Kaede
Yoshiko Miyazaki Lady Sue
Hisashi Igawa Kurogane
Masayuki Yui Tango
Takeshi Nomura Tsurumaru
Daisuke Oka Actor
Jun Tazaki Ayabe
Hitoshi Ueki Fujimaki
Toshiya Ito Naganuma
Kazuo Kato Ikoma
Takeshi Kato Hatakeyama
Kenji Kodama Shirane
Norio Matsui Ogura

Technical Credits
Akira Kurosawa Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Tameyuki Aimi Makeup
Katsumi Furukawa Executive Producer
Masato Hara Producer
Jiro Hirai Set Decoration/Design
Masato Ide Screenwriter
Mitsuyuki Kimura Set Decoration/Design
Shinobu Muraki Production Designer
Yoshiro Muraki Production Designer
Chihako Naito Makeup
Asakazu Nakai Cinematographer
Hideo Oguni Screenwriter
Yasuyoshi Ototake Set Decoration/Design
Ulrich Pickardt Production Manager
Takao Saito Cinematographer
Tsuneo Shimura Set Decoration/Design
Serge Silberman Producer
Noriko Takamizawa Makeup
Toru Takemitsu Score Composer
Yoshiro Tonsho Set Decoration/Design
Masaharu Ueda Cinematographer
Shohichiro Ueda Makeup
Emi Wada Costumes/Costume Designer

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Ran 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
ChArLiEtHeHuNtEd More than 1 year ago
I have multiple copies of this movie. Still have my VHS copy actually. I can't bring myself to part with any of them. This version is hands down the best though...it's awesome. So awesome. If you haven't seen it, I'm jealous because you get to see it new.
Too few flicks like this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The small screne doesn't allow this extraordinary film to breathe. In the theatre, the audience held its collective breath many times as an absolutely gorgeous picture would slowly come to life: the first indication it wasn't a still would be the barest flutter of a battle flag,then the other elements would slowly join in a fantastic ballet of motion until the scene erupted. True art. See it on the largest screen possible.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love anime. Actually, I love Japanese culture. This movie is emotional and enjoyable. The bloody fight scenes, the performance, even the story, can captivate you. It will tell you the reality of mankind and remind you that every generation has a dark chapter of history, and it can occur anywhere and anytime, to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Barnes and Noble customer wrote that this film is best viewed on the big screen...to that I would suggest a big home screen! The great plus of seeing this at home is you can rerun the glorious scenes, savoring the magnificent cinematography and the brilliant score by Toro Takemitsu. Although a great theater experience, Ran is a must-have DVD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm guessing that the reviewer that preceeded this one watched one of the older transfers of this movie. The Masterworks Edition of this, that was produced by Wellspring is one of the greatest transfers of a Kurosawa movie I have seen (Kagemusha is probably the best, go Criterion). One simple line would describe this movie in whole: Shakespeare done better than Shakespeare. Keep in mind: Don't get anything but the Wellspring Masterworks Edition. The others are all horribly done transfers that looks worse than most VHS versions of this movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
“Ran” is the first film I watched by Akira Kurosawa. I am now a huge fan of his work thanks to my Amazonian friends who had already seen it. When a living legend like Kurosawa, does a King Lear adaptation at the tender age of 75, one would expect a small-scale film concentrating on the human elements of the story. That he produced an epic of such proportions makes a further evaluation of the great man's contribution to cinema necessary. ”Ran” is set in medieval Japan and follows the basic King Lear narrative closely. Lord Hidetora is an aging warlord and, wanting a peaceful retirement, decides to divide his kingdom up amongst his three sons. After banishing the youngest, Saburo, for pouring scorn on the idea, Hidetora finds himself an unwanted obstacle to the older two. After repeated humiliations, pride forces Hidetora into vain wanderings on the open plain, his state of mind declining as rapidly as his entourage. The film sets itself the unenviable task of trying to explain the precarious position man holds within the universe. Man is seen to be elevating himself to such a level that he dreams of challenging the very laws of nature. Hidetora has achieved his status through deception, callousness and violence his notion to wash away the blood he has spilt in happy retirement is scornfully thrown back by the elements. The speed and manner in which he is forced to lie in the bed he has made for himself should serve as a warning to all. The films large set pieces, particularly two quite stunning battle sequences, are staged magnificently, but 'Ran' is no empty epic. The characters and their motivations are fully explored and the tension built up by the dialogue fully compliments the action. With an ending which offers no redemption 'Ran' paints a bleak picture - the colors and brushstrokes it employs however, turn it into a dazzling masterpiece. The battle scenes are some of the best I have seen. One point - the second main battle reminds me of 'Zulu' with the soldiers lined up on the skyline shouting down. The makeup used on Hidetora to mimick the Noh theatre makes this film that much more dramatic. Don't expect to be uplifted with a standard samurai flick. This is one of the most visually beautiful films I've ever seen. Before you watch this place it on a big screen with good color registration and good sound because Kurosawa uses as much of the screen as he can.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Words fail describing how good this movie or why it must be viewed. The inner turmoil of a powerful warlord are brought out in the open. At once sad, violent but very beautiful, this film will engage the senses and touch the heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Classic film about family struggle , inner turmoil, and greed.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Like the story's plot ,eventhough it starts at a time where charachters have with them unseen histories,that made their confusing role.