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Ran (The Masterworks Edition)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryû, Mieko Harada
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Masato Ide, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Hisao Kurosawa, Katsumi Furukawa, Masato Hara
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Paramount Home Video
  • Release Date: April 22 2003
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008973Q
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #57,115 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Amazon.ca

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. Although this awesome epic is best viewed on a big theatrical screen, the DVD presents the widescreen film with a higher quality of image and sound than was ever previously available in any home-video format. --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

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Aug. 20 2004
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Randy Keehn on March 21 2004
Format: DVD
I read "King Lear" several years ago and I confess that I got lost from time to time in the play. I believe that I understand it a lot better now that I have seen "Ran". This is one of those film epics ala "Dr. Zhivago" or "Lawrence of Arabia" with the added bonus that Shakespeare helped with the screenplay. I might get into trouble with that last comment. After all, the language was a little more down to earth but still on a level well above your typical epic. This foreign film won an Academy Award for best costume design and it's not hard to see why. The only problem is, nobody ever seems to get theirs dirty except when they're killed. There are a number of battle scenes that bring to mind the old film trailer line..A CAST OF THOUSANDS. The color and quality of the film are superb on this version at least until the last part where it darkened rather noticeably. Although it's 160 minutes in length, I have no complaints about that fact. I do have to admit that I had to take a break a time or two to run some errands but the story line was well developed so I had no trouble picking up where I left off. This would have been an impressive movie to see on the big screen. Like the play, this is a tragedy in which many characters are killed but the motivation behind it all is the heart of it's story.
As I always do with foreign language DVD's, I watched this initially in its' original language with English subtitles. The acting was so good, I believe I will continue to watch it that way. I would recommend this movie to anyone has something of an appreciation for Shakespeare and an appreciation for good movies. I came away with the impression that I had just seen a cinema classic for the ages. You may just get the same reaction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By world class wreckin cru on Dec 7 2003
Format: DVD
This film was the last of Kurosawa's great epics. It is loosely based on King Lear but with Kurosawa's own plot twists and injections of Japanese culture including Noh influences. The story basically revolves around the treachery of 2 of the Great Lord's sons after they are bequeathed his power and the rejection and final redemption of the son the Great Lord initially banishes. Although, the film is 2 and half hours long, it does not get boring. The acting is phenomenal, the battle scenes are spectacular, and the cinematography is breathtaking. The kind of filmmaking that Ran represents is virtually extinct. Movies no longer use thousands of extras and hundreds of real horses and can no longer convey the realism of movies like Ran. Fortunately for us, Ran is beautifully restored as you can see in the Restoration Demo under the special features. The commentary by Stephen Prince without a doubt establishes the 5-star rating for this DVD. He analyzes the film constantly from beginning to end pointing out salient features of Kurosawa's style and making sure we understand everything relevant to Kurosawa's direction of Ran. The second commentary by Peter Grilli is not quite as interesting unfortunately.
Despite the absence of the incredible Toshiro Mifune, I highly recommend this DVD.
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Format: DVD
As I'm studying for a Ph.D and hoping to specialize in Renaisance English drama, it seemed a good idea to see this film, Kirosawa's adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear to feudal Japan. And I am very glad I did!
Kirosawa's tale may actually improve upon some of the things Shakespeare did in some cases. We're given a good view of what "Lear" was like in his youth through ruins and the fact that his two older sons are both married to women who's families he conquered and slaughtered. The Fool, a mainstay of the Shakespearean tale, is given a scene that shows the pathos of the man. Lamenting that he's spent his whole life being nurse/entertainer to Lord Hidetora, the audience can see why he'd want to pack up and run away. And yet he stays (more than you can say for Shakespeare's Fool, who just disappears at one point and is never seen again). Kirosawa also answers the question of what happened to Lear's knights for his film. Hidetora's retainers still follow him, they don't just disappear, and it's their fate the fact it is caused by Hidetora's two older sons, Jiro and Toru, that ultimately drive him to extreme madness.
What Kirosawa adds also makes for a much nastier ending. Lady Kaede outscores all the Bard of Avon's shrews and masculine women as a manipulative demon. Without her influence, perhaps her husband Toru wouldn't have decided to humiliate his father, and most certainly younger brother Jiro wouldn't have goen to war. That she's punished for her actions is a certainty...that she was still successful adds an awful dimension to the film. Compared to her opposite number, the dutiful Buddhist Lady Sue, we can see the world of Ran is one that rewards treachery and force, while the quiet contemplative life won't get you anywhere.
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