ming movie reviews

in about 100 words or less

Ran (1985)

Japan/France 160m, Colour
Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryû, Mieko Harada, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Hisashi Igawa

Ran is a dramatic tale of betrayal, revenge and the madness of humanity. As a combination of Samurai legend and Shakespearian tale, Kurosawa had a wealth of inspiration from which to draw. Appointed with extravagant production qualities and beautiful costuming, Ran is a visually stunning film. Unfortunately, it lacks the deeply emotional performances which one comes to expect from Kurosawa’s impressive and highly personal body of work. Despite the film’s terrific potential and fascinating plot, which pits three sons against one another and their father, this often-called “magnum opus” suffers from incredibly slow pacing and a severe under exploration of character motivations, which the film’s lengthy running time could easily have afforded to fill-in (Klaus Ming August 2011).

5 comments on “Ran (1985)

  1. movie guy steve
    08/09/2011

    Hmmm. I’ll disagree with you on this one. I didn’t have a problem with the pacing at all, nor with the character motivations.

  2. Klaus
    08/10/2011

    It’s not for wanting to like this film, but after watching 26 Kurosawa films, I just wasn’t as impressed with Ran as I thought I was going to be – especially after seeing films like Ikiru (1952) and I Live in Fear (1955).

    I think Ran would have been better served if we had been given back stories for the sons and particularly the eldest son’s wife (whose actions are central to the family’s downfall).

    The madness of the father also seemed overplayed and somewhat drawn out.

    Overall, I guess I expected a whole lot more.

  3. Kurosawa Lover
    08/11/2011

    What what what?!?! Ok, pacing being slow maybe compared to Hollywood blockbusters of today (I consider it to be a slow burning film on purpose but its not everyone’s style). But unexplored motivations? For who? Lady Kaede- the man slaughtered her family and burned down her castle, of course she wanted revenge? The two elder sons? They wanted power but were easily manipulated? The characters are the strength of this film. Which character in particular did you feel was underdeveloped?

  4. Klaus
    08/12/2011

    I love most Kuroswa’s films (just not this one as much as i’d hoped)

    The pacing is not so different than other Kurosawa films – which I have no problem with – the problem with Ran is that so much more could have been done.

    And yes unexplored motivations – saying her family was killed is one thing (showing it would have been another). My point is that with the lengthy running time – he could have enriched these descriptions with the actual events. I’d suggest that all of the main characters could have benefited from more of this.

    I seem to be in the minority here 🙂

  5. Klaus
    08/12/2011

    Edit: I just noticed that my final sentence of my review was left dangling… I’ve since added “to fill-in” after “could easily have afforded”. I hope that makes more sense now.

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This entry was posted on 08/09/2011 by in 1001 List, 1980s, All and tagged .
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