RAN (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Friday, October 2, 9:00, and Sunday, October 11, 7:30
Festival runs through October 11
Inspired by the story of feudal lord Mori Motonari and Shakespeare’s King Lear, Akira Kurosawa’s Ran is an epic masterpiece about the decline and fall of the Ichimonji clan. Aging Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) is ready to hand over his land and leadership to his three sons, Taro (Akira Terao), Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu), and Saburo (Daisuke Ryû). But jealousy, misunderstandings, and outright deceit and treachery result in Saburo’s banishment and a violent power struggle between the weak eldest, Taro, and the warrior Jiro. Hidetaro soon finds himself rejected by his children and wandering the vast, empty landscape with his wise, sarcastic fool, Kyoami (Peter), as the once-proud king descends into madness. Dressed in white robes and with wild white hair, Nakadai (The Human Condition, Harakiri), in his early fifties at the time, portrays Hidetaro, one of the great characters of cinema history, with an unforgettable, Noh-like precision. Kurosawa, cinematographers Asakazu Nakai, Takao Saitô, and Masaharu Ueda, and Oscar-winning costume designer Emi Wada bathe the film in lush greens, brash blues, and bold reds and yellows that marvelously offset the white Hidetaro. Kurosawa shoots the first dazzling battle scene in an elongated period of near silence, with only Tôru Takemitsu’s classically based score playing on the soundtrack, turning the film into a thrilling, blood-drenched opera. Ran is a spectacular achievement, the last great major work by one of the twentieth century’s most important and influential filmmakers. Ran, which opened the 1985 New York Film Festival, is screening October 2 at 9:00 and October 11 at 7:30 in the Revivals section of the fifty-third New York Film Festival, which is showing such other revivals as King Hu’s A Touch of Zen and Manoel de Oliveira’s Visit, or Memories and Confessions.