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Friday, 7 May 2010
Thanks to the 2010 Dumfries Film Festival a privileged few were able to see a rare showing of Akira Kurosawa Ran (1985). Kurosawa made this study of power, revenge and retribution with its backdrop of feudal warfare in sixteenth century Japan when he was seventy-five years old bringing to it a lifetime of directorial experience. He described the film as ‘a series of human events viewed from heaven’ the story was adapted from Shakespeare’s King Lear and combined with ancient Japanese legend to make what can truly be described as a masterpiece. To my mind the film has three stand out characters. The first and focal point of our story, Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadi) the Grand Lord who transfers control of his kingdom to his three sons which in turn leads to a bloody and violent power struggle. Secondly one of the best villaineses I’ve seen on screen for a long time the devious and scheming Lady Kaede (Mieko Harado) wife of one son, mistress of another. Who could possibly forget the way she appears to ‘levitate’ across the castle floor with her silk gowns erotically rustling as she moved. The third character is Hidetora loyal court jester Kyoami played by transvestite Shinnosuke Ikehata. The tremendous battle scenes we witness are some of the best committed to film, several are accompanied only by silence, which is very effective and adds a powerful potency to the death and destruction shown upon the screen. At the time Ran was the most expensive film made in Japan (12 million dollars). Kurosawa, one of the best directors at handling action and the use of crowds, was the man responsible for creating the awareness of Japanese cinema in the West. Ran is a landmark of modern world cinema.