November 18, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Ran

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
160 minutes
performer
Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Mieko Harada
director
Akira Kurosawa
distributor
Fox Lorber
author
Masato Ide, Hisami Kuroiwa, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, William Shakespeare
genre
Foreign Language, Drama, Historical
We gave it an A

Transposing King Lear to feudal Japan, Akira Kurosawa delivers this visual feast of Shakespeare, Noh theater, and action epics. Warlord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) unwisely divides his kingdom, spurning his plainspoken youngest son in favor of his two older ones. Ran (”chaos”) ensues. The director’s most ingenious creation is Mieko Harada’s white-faced black widow, Lady Kaede: In the midst of a bogus crying jag, she pauses to squash a bug. As for extras, scholar Stephen Prince’s gold-standard commentary displays a breadth of knowledge (reaching such esoterica as samurai-naming methods) that dwarfs the two making-ofs and a new interview with Nakadai, who suffered each day through four hours of makeup.

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