Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, revived this week, was the Japanese director’s version of King Lear. Shot in 1985 on Mount Fuji’s ashy slopes, it combines the explosive grandeur of a volcanic eruption with the glowing grace of a lava flow. Kurosawa was given a pot of money late in life from outside Japan to make a pair of expensive epics — this one, preceded by the no less magnificent Kagemusha. Even masters of action cinema can benefit from enlightened patronage.
The battle scenes in Ran are dazzling. So, differently and more delicately, are the court intrigues. So is the macabre, poignant comedy of a transvestite Fool, stealing scenes whenever Lear himself is off-screen or sometimes even on.
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