Ran is a classic tragedy which is fed by Shakespeare's King Lear, Noh theater and a samurai epic, all in one. The tragedy unfolds after Lord Hidetora cedes his empire to his sons. But soon this is followed by an avalanche of betrayal and bloodshed. The old lord is full of contempt for his two oldest sons who begin to turn against him. Behind both of them is the evil Lady Kaede. Lady Kaede is one psychotic, crazy (insert appropriate word here).
My favorite character is Kyoami, a girlish court jester who goads his master Lord Hidetora but is also very loyal. Kyoami has a way of seeing things clearly and he translates what he sees and understands into his silly songs and dances.
Hidetora was played by Tatsuya Nakadai, who first appeared in a Kurosawa movie in Seven Samurai. Nakadai did an incredible job as he went from the great lord to senile old man who has lost his mind. His face became more and more tortured as he descended into madness, his face becoming a real life Noh mask. The burning castle that Hidetora emerges from was a great scene and was really impressive once the castle was fully engulfed.
This was a great samurai movie weekend. I plan to watch several more next weekend. On my list is a movie about the Chushingura, the famous story of the 47 Samurai.