By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
Lord Hidetora is a powerful warlord who spent his entire life fighting to build his empire. Growing weary with age, he decides that it is time to retire. He announces that his kingdom will be divided between his sons, with his eldest taking over the First Castle, and his younger sons taking the other two, and the lands which go with them. Eldest son Taro, along with younger son Jiro are quick to smother his father with praise for this decision. Youngest son Saburo is not so kind, however. Saburo openly and publicly mocks what he sees as a decision that is sure to tear apart the Kingdom. For his insolence, Hidetora’s final act in power is to strip Saburo of his title, and banish him from the kingdom. Saburo’s words come to haunt Hidetora though, as time proves the truth of his statements, his elder sons betray him, and soon they betray each other, as the kingdom is once again torn apart by war.
Ran was a 10 year long project for Director Akira Kurosawa, who painstakingly storyboarded the entire film via a series of paintings. Each shot in the film is based off of one, and this attention to detail is clear from the color-coded costumes of each rival warlord (and by extension, their armies) to the gorgeously framed windswept plains in which much of the film takes place. If I could chose any film to be re-released on the big screen, this would be my choice, based on visuals alone.
The entire cast is stellar, however special mention is due to star Tatsuya Nakadai as Lord Hidetora, whose descent into pure madness is nothing less than heartbreaking to watch. Over the course of the film, Hidetora transforms from an elderly but proud man, into a ragged ghost of a figure, with grave visions and spouting insane ramblings.
The story is based loosely on William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, but the principal concepts of chaos and greed have often been employed in his past films. It has a universally recognizable themes which warn of the dangers which greed and lust for power beget for future generations.
Perhaps the film’s most powerful moment comes roughly an hour in, when Hidetora’s castle is attacked by forces from armies of both if his sons. Director Kurosawa does not utilize any sound during this scene until very near the end, instead, a sparse film score plays over increasingly brutal images of slaughter. Here’s a brief clip of the sequence (sadly, a longer piece isn’t available on Youtube).
A powerful tale of greed, revenge, and their consequences.
Take a Drink: each time Hidetora’s Fool tells a joke
Take a Drink: for each time something terrible happens to Hidetora
Do a Shot: any time blood sprays like a fountain