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Ran [Blu-ray]

Tatsuya Nakadai , Akira Terao , Akira Kurosawa    Blu-ray
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 44.95
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Ran [Blu-ray] + Kagemusha (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + Seven Samurai [Blu-ray]
Price For All Three: CDN$ 106.42

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As critic Roger Ebert observed in his original review of Ran, this epic tragedy might have been attempted by a younger director, but only the Japanese master Akira Kurosawa, who made the film at age 75, could bring the requisite experience and maturity to this stunning interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear. It's a film for the ages--one of the few genuine screen masterpieces--and arguably serves as an artistic summation of the great director's career. In this version of the Shakespeare tragedy, the king is a 16th-century warlord (Tatsuya Nakadai as Lord Hidetora) who decides to retire and divide his kingdom evenly among his three sons. When one son defiantly objects out of loyalty to his father and warns of inevitable sibling rivalry, he is banished and the kingdom is awarded to his compliant siblings. The loyal son's fears are valid: a duplicitous power struggle ensues and the aging warlord witnesses a maelstrom of horrifying death and destruction. Although the film is slow to establish its story, it's clear that Kurosawa, who planned and painstakingly designed the production for 10 years before filming began, was charting a meticulous and tightly formalized dramatic strategy. As familial tensions rise and betrayal sends Lord Hidetora into the throes of escalating madness, Ran (the title is the Japanese character for "chaos" or "rebellion") reaches a fever pitch through epic battles and a fortress assault that is simply one of the most amazing sequences on film. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

Akira Kurosawa's 1985 masterpiece was remastered for its Masterworks release, a clear improvement over the notoriously disappointing Fox Lorber DVD. The transfer is now vividly colorful and crisply detailed, presented in anamorphic widescreen with optional yellow subtitles that are easier to read (though the earlier release probably wasn't as bad as the "old" image used in the restoration demo). The 5.1-channel sound option allows deeper immersion in Kurosawa's painstakingly crafted soundtrack, and film historian Stephen Price's superlative, feature-length commentary track provides engaging and scholarly perspective on Kurosawa's development of theme through composition, camera placement, editing, and highly stylized direction of actors. Another comparatively sparse commentary track by Japanese cultural expert Peter Grilli is worthwhile for its insider's view of Kurosawa's personality and methods. --Jeff Shannon

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 5 Star Film, 2 Star DVD Aug. 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am reviewing the Masterworks Edition of Akira Kurosawa's "Ran". First, "Ran" is obviously an epic masterpiece and it is a must own item for any serious collector of world cinema. As a collector, I don't mind paying top prices for an excellent transfer or restoration of a classic film. However, I do mind paying a premium price and receiving a DVD that has the aspect ratio incorrect. The Masterworks Edition costs about the same as many Criterion Collection releases, yet they have delivered a butchered version of the film. In the opening credits, most of the cast and crew's last names have 3 or 4 letters chopped right off the end. In other words, the entire 160 minute movie is presented to the viewer with sections on both sides of the screen sliced off. It is a crying shame to see a film as historically important an "Ran" given such amateur treatment. However, the colour transfer is a vast improvement over the cheaper Fox Lorber DVD of "Ran". But, at least Fox Lorber got the aspect ration correct! So you have two inferior choices of this classic film to currently select from: (1) the cheaper Fox Lorber with the poor colour transfer but correct widescreen presentation or the (2) the more expensive Masterworks edition with excellent colour tranfer but incorrect widescreen presentation. I wish Criterion would get the rights to "Ran" and release a 2 disc edition with proper restoration of the film and plenty of additonal features - "Ran" deserves to be treated with respect and Criterion wouldn't mess the job up like Fox Lorber or Masterworks.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I see why my friends love this so much Aug. 16 2007
By Jenny J.J.I. TOP 500 REVIEWER
"Ran" is the first film I've watched by Akira Kurosawa. Now I'm a huge fan of his work thanks to my Amazonian friends who had already seen it. When a legend like Kurosawa, does a King Lear adaptation at the tender age of 75, one would expect a small-scale film concentrating on the human elements of the story. That he produced an epic of such proportions makes a further evaluation of the great man's contribution to cinema necessary.

"Ran" is set in medieval Japan and follows the basic King Lear narrative closely. Lord Hidetora is an aging warlord and, wanting a peaceful retirement, decides to divide his kingdom up amongst his three sons. After banishing the youngest, Saburo, for pouring scorn on the idea, Hidetora finds himself an unwanted obstacle to the older two. After repeated humiliations, pride forces Hidetora into vain wanderings on the open plain, his state of mind declining as rapidly as his entourage.

The film sets itself the unenviable task of trying to explain the precarious position man holds within the universe. Man is seen to be elevating himself to such a level that he dreams of challenging the very laws of nature. Hidetora has achieved his status through deception, callousness and violence; his notion to wash away the blood he has spilt in happy retirement is scornfully thrown back by the elements. The speed and manner in which he is forced to lie in the bed he has made for himself should serve as a warning to all.

The films large set pieces, particularly two quite stunning battle sequences, are staged magnificently, but 'Ran' is no empty epic. The characters and their motivations are fully explored and the tension built up by the dialogue fully compliments the action.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lust for Power and Madness June 15 2006
The story line is superb ... the scenery is stunning and gorgeous, vast mountains and green valleys, walled castles and fortresses. Hidetora, the aging warlord, holds a conference with his three sons and local chieftains on a mountainside. He announces his decision to relinquish the leadership of his kingdom to the eldest of his three sons. Only one son, the youngest, dares to speak up and state that during his lifetime he has known only war and fighting, he predicts the same after the transfer of power. He believes there will be power struggles between his two older brothers due to jealousy. The youngest brother personally has no desire to be warlord. Hidetora planned to leave one castle to each of his three sons. He has each son hold an arrow and asks them to break it in half, which they easily do. He gives them in succession, three arrows bundled together, representing the unity of the family, none can break the bundle. This is Hidetora's example of how the family will remain strong if they remain unified. He envisions the House of Ichimanji to be powerful and his eldest son to be overlord of the kingdoms attained during Hidetora's own reign of power. In his anger, Hidetora banishes the youngest son accusing him of defying his wishes ... Yet Subarua, the youngest, holds his father in esteem and respect throughout the predicted battles which come to pass.

Hidetora visits Taro's castle after the power transfer and finds his concubines have to bow and kneel to Taro's wife, Sue'. They are forced to move out. Hidetora discovers after the transfer of power, he is no longer respected. Sue' married into the family to consolidate land holdings and property attained as the spoils of war, a war in which her parents were murdered.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie To Listen To The Words.Not Like Someone Here. Who Only...
"Director Akira Kurosawa,"Ran" the movie that people are calling a masterpiece of work,
for world cinema and beyond,this is the sort of movie that would make you go,okay hold... Read more
Published 6 months ago by trek fan
5.0 out of 5 stars This could've been a miniseries
Well I have to confess that I have seen many Shakespeare plays but not King Lear; so this is not a comparison review. Read more
Published 7 months ago by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars Ran - Studio Canal Blu Ray review
I'm not going to talk about how great the film is - in short, it's one of my all-time favourite movies; movie - 5/5. Read more
Published 15 months ago by T. Stamatis
4.0 out of 5 stars 'RAN' and 'KAGEMUSHA'
I just wonder if you have DVD's for the movies: 'RAN' and 'KAGEMUSHA' other than Blue Ray. I'm pretty sure these movies are good based on the comments from my friends who watched... Read more
Published on April 27 2012 by Hugh
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa's best film
In my Opinion RAN is Akira Kurosawa's best film, the pomp and majesty of fuedal Japan, the battle scenes and excellant acting make this a spectacular event, well worth watching... Read more
Published on April 22 2012 by tottenham46
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa's gorgeous epic on blu-ray
I always loved Kurosawa's epic interpretation of King Lear set in Feudal Japan, and now this vivid imagery is more gorgeous than ever on blu-ray. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2010 by Cheryl
People who care about grandiloquent visuals yet a controlled palette accentuated by the immemorable use of sound -- or, in one major battle scene, the absence of the sounds of the... Read more
Published on July 4 2004 by Shashank Tripathi
1.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as all you people are making it out to be
This movie is terrible. I bought it expecting a good action epic with lots of battles and sword fights. Read more
Published on June 30 2004 by Sean
5.0 out of 5 stars William Akira Shakespeare Kurosawa
This film is undeniable the most notable adaptation of any work of William Shakespeare to the movie. Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars The best telling of King Lear I have ever seen.
Kurosawa has tackled Shakespear before, like in the brilliant Throne Of Blood, but in this film he shows why he is one of the greatest directors of all time. Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by scott belba
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