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Archive: Winter 2006

Ran

Introduction by Ted Fowler,
Professor of East Asian Languages and Literature, UCI

Akira Kurosawa stands tall as a giant of Japanese cinema. His numerous masterworks have influ-enced filmmaking in every corner of the earth. He is also a cultural crossroad between the east and the west, having adapted tales of Shakespeare (Throne of Blood [MacBeth] and Ran [King Lear]) within the backdrop of feudal Japan, and later having had his works adapted by American and European filmmakers (A Fistful of Dollars [Yojimbo], The Magnificent Seven [Seven Samurai], and Star Wars [The Hidden Fortress]). Steven Spielberg once called Kurosawa “the pictorial Shakespeare of our time”.

Released in 1985 at the age of 75, Kurosawa’s Ran “is as close to perfect as filmmaking gets. List any element —from concept through cinematography, battle action, editing, acting, sound, music, costumes or whatever, right down to makeup—and Kurosawa’s commitment is total. Ran is proof that the spirit can be captured on film. Kurosawa’s was. —Bob Graham, The San Francisco Chronicle

Like Shakespeare’s plays, Kurosawa’s films hold the mirror up to nature, especially to the human heart, and often discern therein a “strange perturbation.” But neither the poet nor the filmmaker succumbs to nihilism or adopts the conclusion that human life is pointless. Instead, they put dramatically before our eyes the unavoidable and perennial questions about human evil and betrayal, about the tragic frustration of noble human aspirations. —Thomas Hibbs, The National Review

1985, Japan • 160 minutes • 35mm • In Japanese w/ English subtitles
Directed by Akira Kurosawa

 

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