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26.1.10

WRITTEN REVIEW: Ran

By FOREST TAYLOR
If you're anything like me, then you believe that if a movie contains the words "uplifting", "heart-warming", "the feel-good movie of the year", or "based on the inspiring true story" then you can easily bet that you're going to hate it with every ounce of your being. I don't know what it is, but I almost instantly hate any movie that tries to make me feel good about the world, and I especially hate any movie that tries to lecture me about mankind's good-natured, honest, hard-working spirit. I believe that most people are bastards and they stay bastards throughout their entire miserable lives. So these movies are for you: the people you think the human race is completely rotten right down our gooey centers. These are the most gleefully misanthropic films of all time.

Ran [1985]
One of Akira Kurosawa’s final films is a beautifully shot and directed take on Shakespeare’s King Lear. It is also about loyalty, devotion, and honor, but more specifically, how these things don’t exist. In reality, human beings are all vain, greedy, and murderous right down to our rotten core. Nearly every character in this film is at each other’s throats, have no loyalty to anyone but themselves, and in the end all die without mercy or redemption (as they deserve neither). This savagery is best personified by Lady Kaede (one of the most ruthless villains in film), who is more than willing to destroy everyone around her if she feels it will right the wrongs against her. The film itself is overflowing with incredible imagery, from the opening boar hunt (foreshadowing what is to follow), to the burning of Castle Ichimonji, to the two armies watching over a battlefield like vultures. However, the most memorable image for me remains the final one: of the blind Tsurumaru standing precariously close to the edge of a cliff. The image is the perfect analogy of the human condition: we are all alone, helpless, and completely oblivious to how close we are to our own demise.

RAN

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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