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series: Films

description: Set in feudal Japan where ageing ruler, Lord Hidetora, unleashes a power struggle amongst his three sons.
tags: Akira Kurosawa; Edo; Japanese films; movie review; movies;

Ran is an epic film by Akira Kurosawa, one of the most prolific directors of all times. The film is set in the Edo period, or when feudal lords ruled in Japan, and follows the tale of Lord Hidetora, who divides his kingdom amongst his three sons, and the tragedy that follows. Akira Kurosawa is well renowned the detailing in his films, whether it be through movement, or colour, each scene is artistically made and is visually striking.

The story follows the old Hidetora, who has warred in his youth to amass a kingdom he now divides amongst his three sons - Taro, Jiro, and Saburo. Taro, being the eldest, receives the castle and the leadership of the clan. Jiro and Saburo receive the other castles, and an allegiance to the clan. Hidetora retains his titles and guard. While the arrangement plays out, the youngest, being brash, speaks out of turn by taunting that Hidetora must be mad to divide his reign such as the sons will surely fight amongst themselves. Angry at his outburst, Hidetora banishes Saburo.

The plot follows each character as they give in to their ambition, ego, and pride. Fate plays a cunning trick on each of them. Mostly, Ran is a family drama that is rendered beautiful by the palette it is drawn with. Each actor, character, and extra is well immersed in their role. The story follows an arc similar to Shakespeare's King Lear, though both are set in different times and customs.

The film is quite long, at 162 minutes, it runs well past 2 hours. The story might seem dull and slow, but more time is given to etch out each characters emotion with details. The film is a must-see simply for its superb direction, editing, and the way each scene is carefully carried out in terms of the use of space, colour, and movements.