Ran: One of the Best Films Ever Made

With our attention more divided than ever by ubiquitous media, it’s easy to understand why some film critics feel the need to hyperbolize their positive, but by no means ecstatic, reactions so as to convince readers that the arduous journey to the theater might actually be worth it. However, Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, screening twice this week at the Cornell Cinema, requires no embellishment; while other Kurosawa films such Seven Samurai and Rashomon occupy a higher perch on the Sight & Sound rankings, make no mistake, Ran is still among the greatest films ever made. Charged with the virtuosic kineticism evident throughout the Japanese director’s oeuvre, Ran, an appropriation of King Lear, skillfully combines the pathetic nihilism of its Shakespearean source with the violent feudalism of Japanese legend. As a contemporary appropriation of medieval tales, Ran is an enrapturing example of the immersive, spectacular possibilities of cinema. After decades amassing a large empire, 70-year-old Lord Hidetora Ichimonji abdicates his throne in favor of the eldest of his three sons, but not without providing the younger two with their own castles by which to support their older brother.