January 21, 2008

Movie Review

Last night I watched Ran (translation: Chaos), which is another Japanese retelling of a Shakespeare story. This time, it's King Lear, and it's a dark and beautiful epic set (once again) in feudal Japan.

Storyline: A Great Lord decides to divide his kingdom into three, one for each son, with the oldest becoming the new Great Lord. When his youngest objects and calls his father naive, he is banished. Soon enough, intrigue and politics between the two older sons strip the old man of his standing and begin tearing the kingdom apart.

"Man is born crying, and when he's cried enough, he dies."

Like I said, dark and beautiful. There is no happy ending, and there are many disturbing scenes. The battles are frequent and huge, involving armies and castles. Even so, the very human story is never overwhelmed by the scope of the action. The entire film is heavily influenced by Noh theater, most noticable by the old man himself, who's face gradually changes from one mask-like visage to another during the course of the story.

The cinematography is gorgeous, as is the area of Japan that it was filmed in. It's not a quickie at 2 hours and 40 minutes, and there's not many chances to fast forward through the filler. All subtitles.

Like I said over at the Wildside Cinema forums, I think I'm Japanese'd out for a while. This one was wonderful but draining.

Posted by Ted at January 21, 2008 07:49 AM | TrackBack
Category: Cult Flicks

Ran is one of my favorite movies... !

Posted by: Cindy at January 21, 2008 09:48 AM

I love Ran. I even went so far as to buy one of those hugely expensive "collector edition" DVD sets. One with posters and everything. It is a visually stunning film.

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