Critics Consensus

Akira Kurosawa's sprawling, epic take on King Lear should be required viewing for fans of westerns, war movies, or period films in general.



Total Count: 81


Audience Score

User Ratings: 38,265
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Movie Info

Ran is Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's reinterpretation of William Shakespeare's King Lear. The Lear counterpart is an elderly 16th-century warlord (Tatsuya Nakadai), who announces that he's about to divide his kingdom equally among his three sons. In his dotage, he falls prey to the false flattery of his treacherous sons (Akira Terao and Jinpachi Nezu), while banishing his youngest son (Daisuke Ryu), the only member of the family who loves him enough to tell him the unvarnished truth. Thanks to his foolish pride, his domain collapses under its own weight as the sons battle each other over total control. Kurosawa's first film in five years, Ran had been in the planning stages for twice that long; Kurosawa had storyboarded the project with a series of vivid color paintings that have since been published in book form in England. The battle scenes are staged with such brutal vigor that it's hard to imagine that the director was 75 years old at the time. This 160-minute historical epic won several international awards, but it was not a hit in Japan, and it would be five more years before Kurosawa would be able to finance another picture. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Tatsuya Nakadai
as Lord Hidetora Ichimonji
Akira Terao
as Tarotakatora Ichimonji
Jinpachi Nezu
as Jiromasatora Ichimonji
Daisuke Ryu
as Saburonaotora Ichimonji
Mieko Harada
as Lady Kaede
Hisashi Igawa
as Kurogane
Hitoshi Ueki
as Fujimaki
as Kyoami
Hisashi Ikawa
as Kurogane
Takeshi Nomura
as Tsurumaru
Toshiya Ito
as Naganuma
Kenji Kodama
as Shirane
Binpachi Ito
as Naganuma
Takeshi Katô
as Hatakeyama
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Critic Reviews for Ran

All Critics (81) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (78) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Ran

  • Aug 15, 2017
    Ran is Akira Kurosawa's last epic. The man was a genius when it came to directing these long Japanese war epics and Ran is no different. This is Kurosawa's interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear, a play that unfortunately I did not study. The plot consists of Lord Hidetora abdicating his empire and splitting the kingdom between his three sons, who each want to have total control. And so many castles are raided and many horseback battles are conceived. Whatever the scene, everything was filmed to perfection. I just adore Kurosawa's style, he doesn't rush a single scene. Leave a castle burning for 30 seconds, watch a man run through a field for 30 seconds or even look at the sky for 30 seconds. In theory, I should be bored...but his artistic integrity and majestic style is a sight to behold. What resonated with me the most was the screenplay, also by Kurosawa. Several lines of dialogue felt like Shakespeare and it's admirable to see an influential film maker be...well...influenced by another famous writer. Scenes where Hidetora descends into madness are great examples of this. Tatsuya Nakadai, who portrayed Hidetora, was once again outstanding. This equals his role from Kagemusha, it was an emotive and poignant portrayal of a father who has been betrayed by his children. The battle scenes were masterful work, hundreds of extras in clan attire definitely filled up the screen with contrasting colours. The costume and production design were yet again wonderful to look at. I do love me the traditional Japanese environment that Kurosawa captures with ease. Lady Kaeda though, was the manifestation of evil...her manipulative skills were fascinating to watch. This leads me to my only problem, which is that none of the major characters are likeable, even Hidetora had issues. So I struggled to become emotionally invested in these characters. However, the purpose of this iteration was to explore themes of betrayal and insanity, Kurosawa conveyed them to technical perfection. Not a complete masterpiece, but extremely close to being one.
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Jun 17, 2016
    4.5-5. Classic and powerful. Such a good telling of King Lear that it reawakens my (quite dormant) interest in Shakespeare. Very bleak film.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • May 31, 2014
    Akira Kurosawa's Ran is a brilliant, sweeping picture using plenty of themes for build an incredible story. Greed and revenge are the themes explored in the film, and Kurosawa always managed to get the most out of his film because he crafts films that really resonate with the viewer. Ran is such a film. Brilliantly shot, acted and directed, the film, not only boasts effective performances, but has stunning imagery, which adds so much to the film. Fans of his work will definitely relish in the power that the film possesses. I much preferred Kurosawa's earlier work, but Ran is nonetheless a strong film that features all the trademarks that has made Kurosawa's work so good. With strong performances, and a simple, yet effective story, Ran is brilliant, poetic filmmaking that should be seen by any film buff. I really enjoy films that have simple ideas for storylines, and I find that the filmmaker is able to get much more depth out of an idea without overdoing anything, and the result is an impressive effort that ranks among the finest foreign films. Nonetheless, I still think that Seven Samurai was Akira Kurosawa's masterstroke of filmmaking. He has never topped it, but he always delivered thought provoking, epics that managed to be some of the finest films ever made. If you want a good action drama, then give this a viewing, it is a film going experience like no other, and it's one of the few foreign films that have stood the test of time. This is a film worth seeing, and it is enthralling experience from start to finish that will surely appeal to viewers looking for a film that has a simple idea, yet grand execution in style. That was what stood out for Akira Kuroswawa's work, his knack to create big, ambitious films while keeping everything to a bare minimum, as to not complicate things for the viewer and in the process, he created something quite remarkable in the cinematic medium.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2013
    One of the best epics by one of the best filmmakers in cinema history! Good luck trying to shake this one once it's finished! Fucking masterpiece!
    ZACHO D Super Reviewer

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