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Japan, France · 1985
Rated R · 2h 40m
Director Akira Kurosawa
Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryû
Genre Action, Drama, History

With Ran, legendary director Akira Kurosawa reimagines Shakespeare's King Lear as a singular historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa's late-life masterpiece, a profound examination of the folly of war and the crumbling of one family under the weight of betrayal, greed, and the insatiable thirst for power.

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What are people saying?

Megan Rochlin Profile picture for Megan Rochlin

I think if you're going to adapt Shakespeare, you have to have some new and interesting take. I just don't think changing some of Shakespeare's few female character's to male is a particularly groundbreaking adaptation. Lady Kaede, who is roughly analogous to Lear's Edmund character, is an interesting addition, and her actress does a commendable job but she just can't save this bloated film. The film is visually interesting, and I appreciated the brightly colored uniforms. I felt, however, that part of the reason the director had to have the different characters dress in distinctly different colors is that with no distinguishing features or unique personalities they would be impossible to tell apart. I read an interview with the director that said part of the decision to change Lear's daughters into sons was because Japanese audiences would not be able to imagine daughters inheriting property. I'm sorry, this is a fantasy film. You can't even imagine women inheriting property? Just yuck.

Kenny Nixon Profile picture for Kenny Nixon

A cautious nihilism drives the events in one of the largest and most epically scaled wails of despair ever put to film

What are critics saying?


L.A. Weekly by

Save for one startlingly staged battle sequence. . .might as well have been titled "Also Ran."


Mr. Showbiz by F. X. Feeney

The Japanese title means chaos, and that is what is let loose when a powerful king foolishly tries to release the reins of power, in the hopes of enjoying a peaceful old age.


TV Guide Magazine by Frank Lovece

Stands separate from the rest, in a pantheon, a true cinematic masterwork of sight, sound, intelligence, and most importantly--passion.


Portland Oregonian by Shawn Levy

In many respects, it's Kurosawa's most sumptuous film, a feast of color, motion and sound: Considering that its brethren include "Kagemusha," "The Seven Samurai" and "Dersu Uzala," the achievement is extraordinary. [01 Dec 2000, p.26]

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