Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Ran" (1985)

"Ran" (1985)
Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao and Jinpachi Nezu
Written by Akira Kurosawa and Hideo Oguni
Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Written and directed by legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, "Ran" is a Shakespearean tragedy of the highest order.  It is the story of Hidetora Ichimonji, a ruler who steps aside and divides his kingdom amongst his three sons after a long life of war and violence.  What he soon finds, however, is that he's raised his sons to be petty and vindictive, and they soon betray him.

"Ran" is a fantastic film, beautifully shot and featuring amazing splashes of color.  Performances from the cast are all first-rate.  The sort of harsh, staccato style of acting may seem jarring to American audiences, but it all fits with the rest of the picture.  "Ran" is also rather lengthy, but will grab your attention and hold it with it's gripping storyline and excellent, epic action sequences.

I first saw "Ran" years ago as a teenager, and didn't quite appreciate it because of who and where I was at the time.  But the one thing I did remember, vividly, was how intensely colorful it was.  The costumes, the locations and sets all feature fantastic detail and design.  It's unfortunate, then, that the presentation on the Blu-Ray disc isn't as excellent as it could, or should, be.  The picture can best be described as 'inconsistent'.  There are times of excellent clarity, and the film looks practically brand new, but for the most part, there's a softness that hurts the entire thing.  The colors are represented well, though, which is a plus.  The grass in the opening shots may be indistinct, but it certainly is GREEN.

Still, "Ran" is a first-rate picture.  Even with a disappointing Blu-Ray presentation, it still needs to be seen.  Hopefully, someone will come along and give it the proper video transfer this luscious film deserves.