Samurai -- Japan -- Drama, Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. King Lear -- Film and video adaptations



35mm Print


Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu,

The incomparable Tatsuya Nakadai anchors Akira Kurosawa’s lavish adaptation of King Lear, a combination of chamber drama and brutal war epic that is simultaneously visceral and contemplative. Nakadai is a sixteenth-century lord who makes the mistake of first dividing his kingdom among his three sons, then banishing the only one who actually loves him. As in William Shakespeare’s tale, such decisions prove fatal, but Kurosawa pointedly concentrates on not only the effects on father and sons but also the much larger societal impact, as entire armies are dispatched, brutalized, and destroyed due to one man’s inability to understand human nature. Kurosawa and director of photography Takao Saito turn battle scenes into expressionist brushstrokes of vibrant, utterly unnatural hues, setting not armies but colors and shapes against one another, the better to achieve pure art on the cinematic canvas. Nakadai’s gothic portrayal of the mad king gives the film a further splash of color—and rage.

Jason Sanders
  • Akira Kurosawa
  • Hideo Oguni
  • Masato Ide
Based On
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare

  • Takao Saito
  • Masaharu Ueda
  • Japanese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • Color
  • 35mm
  • 160 mins
  • Rialto Pictures

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View Ran documents  

Ran (review), Time Out New York, Mike D'Angelo, 2002

Rules of engagement (review), Village Voice, Amy Taubin, 2000

Ran (distributor materials), New Yorker Films, 1993

Ran (flyer), New Yorker Films, 1991

Akira Kurosawa (article), American Film, Gerald Peary, 1989

Ran (review), Film Journal International, Myron Meisel, 1986

Ran (program note), London Film Festival, 1985

'Chaos' climaxes Kurosawa's career (article), Japan Times, Mayo Issobe, 1985

Ran (review), Variety, David Stratton, 1985

Film strips (review), Boston Phoenix, Charles Taylor, 1985

Displaying 10 of 16 publicly available documents.

View all Ran documentation on CineFiles.