Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan. In its epic scope and expert execution, Ran can be seen as a culmination of the great Japanese director’s filmmaking career; a late triumph which he planned and refined over several years.
By fusing the narrative – about an arrogant King who’s betrayed by his resentful children – with non-naturalistic Japanese aesthetics from the samurai epic and Noh theatre, Kurosawa crafts an arresting and singular cinematic (re)vision of Shakespearean drama. Epic and bloody spectacle is underscored by a sombre mood of loss, regret and mortality, making Ran both enthralling and disturbing. The film is presented here in a stunning new restoration.