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Ran (1985)

Lord Hidetora (Nakadai) is an ageing Japanese warlord who intends to divide his kingdom among his three sons. The elder two are satisfied while the youngest believes his father has gone mad and predicts conflict between his older brothers.

Made when director Akira Kurosawa was 75, Ran (meaning ‘chaos’) was the venerable director’s version of Shakespeare’s King Lear, a project that took ten years to reach the screen, and, at $12 million, was the most expensive film ever made in Japan.


The film is less a straightforward stage-to-screen adaptation (Lear’s daughters are gender-swapped to sons) than an examination of greed, betrayal and disloyalty to the codes of personal honour placed within a dynastic power struggle that finds bloody expression on the battlefield.

Kurosawa had amply demonstrated his mastery of staging epic action scenes in films such as The Seven Samurai (1954), Yojimbo (1961) and Kagemusha (1980) and Ran was proof that his ability to orchestrate epic slices of movement and colour remained that of a cinematic virtuoso.

French director Chris Marker produced an informative ‘making-of’ documentary in 1985.

Lord Hidetora Ichimonji
Tatsuya Nakadai
Taro Takatora Ichimonji
Akira Terao
Jiro Masatora Ichimonji
Jinpachi Nezu
Saburo Naotora Ichimonji
Daisuke Ryu
Lady Kaede
Mieko Harada
Lady Sué
Yoshiko Miyazaki
Kageyu Ikoma
Kazuo Kato
Nobuhiro Fujimaki
Hitoshi Ueki
Seiji Ayabe
Jun Tazaki
Shumenosuke Ogura
Norio Matsui
Shuri Kurogane
Hisashi Igawa
Samon Shirane
Kenji Kodama
Mondo Naganuma
Toshiya Ito
Koyata Hatakeyama
Takeshi Kato
Takeshi Nomura
Tango Hirayama
Masayuki Yui

Akira Kurosawa