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Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Japan, 1985

HOME, 7 April 2016


Kurosawa’s free adaptation of King Lear is in essence an antiwar film.

There is a montage of images of death following a virulent castle siege that almost stops your heart. You think of Bosch and Grunewald. A few times the Lear figure (here a Japanese warlord, played by Tatsuya Nakadai) lifts his eyes to the sky: terror can come from the air as well, as Kurosawa and we well know.

The men (Lear has sons not daughters in this adaptation) are weak and the woman (the Edmund figure, here reminiscent of Lady Macbeth) is fiendishly strong – Mieko Harada gives a fierce performance.

It is an epic, yes, and Kurosawa the storyteller commands your attention. Yet each scene is a poem.

Ran apparently translates as ‘Chaos’; it is an apt title.