Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran” (1985) presents a tragic story of power, greed, and deceit. Inspired by Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, follows aging Hidetora Ichimonji who appoints his three sons, Taro, Jiro, and Saburo, to rule the land. With one exception, Hidetora is to remain the Great Lord.
Taro, the eldest son, is given leadership of the First Castle and the Ichimonji clan. Under Taro’s control, Jiro and Saburo are given the Second and Third Castles. Hidetaro’s authority is tested as his sons’ hunger for power overcomes family ties.
Saburo is the first to betray his father’s legacy in declaring him foolish for trusting the loyalty of his sons. Afterall, Hidetaro himself attained power through ruthless actions in the past.
Following Saburo’s exile, Taro demands Hidetora’s title as Great Lord in hopes of gaining complete control of the Ichimonji clan. Meanwhile, Hidetora flees to Jiro’s castle in hopes of securing an ally, only to find that he is plotting to take control of his empire as well.
Taro and Jiro join forces to siege Hidetaro’s leadership in a deadly fight against their defenders. The Third Castle is burned to the ground as Hidetaro’s sanity begins to slip away into haunting visions of his past.
Following Taro’s death, Jiro assumes the title of the Great Lord of the Inchimonji clan and begins his pursuit to kill his father. Saburo is informed of this mission and sets out to save Hidetaro.
After a series of attacks, Saburo is killed by one of Jiro’s men, leaving Hidetaro dead from grief. Shortly after, Jiro and his men are killed in battle.
A funeral is held for Saburo and Hidetora to commemorate their bond. The film ends with Tsurumaru, a previous victim of Hidetora’s pursuits, looking over the kingdom’s ruins.
director AKIRA KUROSAWA
director of photography TAKAO SAITO, MASAHARU UEDA and ASAKAZU NAKAI
cast TATSUYA NAKADAI, JINPACHI NEZU, AKIRA TERAO, MIEKO HARADA and DAISUKE RYU
words KELLEN MULCAHY
More to read