DVD - 2003 | Japanese
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In 16th century Japan, an aging ruler attempts to divide his kingdom among his three sons. They turn against each other and betray their father, triggering events that ultimately shatter the kingdom, destroy the family, and drive their father insane. Based on Shakespeare's King Lear.


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May 20, 2018

One of the greatest films ever made . Incredible !!!

May 12, 2018

As he did with "Macbeth" in 1957’s "Throne of Blood", director Akira Kurosawa places Shakespeare’s "King Lear" in feudal Japan and the resulting widescreen epic is nothing short of majestic. Although he was going blind at the time his eye for melding poetry with spectacle is fully honed with elaborately coloured costumes against a landscape of harsh geometries—blocky wooden castles are backlit by blood-red clouds, green cliffs recede into blue horizons, and battlefields come alive with multi-coloured pennants while blood explodes onto walls and balustrades. Staying true to Shakespeare’s themes of nihilism and the corruption that springs from pride and reckless ambition, Kurosawa’s dramatic marriage of Western and Eastern styles finds the perfect balance in Tatsuya Nakadai’s portrayal of Hidetora, his exaggerated expressions and ghost-like make-up finding their roots in classical Noh culture while Mieko Harada as the scheming wife of Hidetora’s son Jiro could give Lady Macbeth herself a lesson or two in tyranny. Reportedly influenced by man’s endless cycle of violence and revenge, and with memories of Hiroshima still intact, Kurosawa creates a world of chaos, futility, and base desires where godlike virtues are sorely lacking and everyone learns their lesson only after it’s too late. And he ends it with one of the most striking yet sadly befitting visual metaphors of his career.

Mar 17, 2018

420 ~ Classic !!!!!

Mar 13, 2018

Hilarious! A comedy of errors. One false move after another. Tragedy ensues at every turn. At least there is humor and music throughout. And one pure moment of rational violence, where vengeance is necessary to create a sense of justice, if only for one scene. All else is hubris. A terrible beauty is born.

Jun 23, 2017

Saw this over 30 years ago on the bigscreen (at the Roxy on 124 Street, Westend's answer to the Princess). Still packs a visual punch undiluted by the passage of time. A great film that combines Shakespeare and samurai.

May 21, 2015

Another great feudal (1500s) Japan Warlord story. A little too long for my taste (2:00 + hrs) and these subtitled film are starting to get to me.

NewYorkViews Mar 19, 2015

Excellent fictionalized shogun film that takes place in 16th Century Japan. Great cinematography, fashion, cast, script, acting--the feudal Kingdoms female roles were especially quite cool as often this is not in films, the Fool was excellent also. I saw this film years ago on cable several times, and I was happy to see several DVDs of it at NYPL (such as Wellspring Release 2003, The Masterworks Edition). Just fantastic.

crankylibrarian Jun 05, 2013

Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, an intensely bloody , and intensely beautiful transposition of King Lear to feudal Japan. When an aging warlord divides his kingdom among his 3 sons, the youngest rebels: violence and chaos result as the once orderly kingdom sinks into civil war. Painful and briliiant.

Sep 20, 2012

This film is based on the legend of Mōri Motonari (毛利元就; one of the famous war lords in Japan) as well as on the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear.
Motonari was famous for having three sons, all incredibly loyal and talented in their own right.
Kurosawa began imagining what would have happened had they been bad.
Despite the similarities to Shakespeare's play King Lear, Kurosawa only became aware of the similarities after he had started pre-planning.
He wrote the script shortly after filming "Dersu Uzala" in 1975, and then "let it sleep" for seven years while searching for funding.
His 1970 film "Dodesukaden (どですかでん)" was a box-office flop and bankrupted the company.
Many of his younger rivals boasted that he was finished.
A year later, unable to secure any domestic funding and plagued by ill-health, Kurosawa attempted suicide by slashing his wrists.
Though he survived, his misfortune would continue to plague him until the late 1980s.
Following his success with 1980's "Kagemusha (影武者)", which he sometimes called a "dress rehearsal" for Ran, Kurosawa was finally able to secure backing from French producer Serge Silberman.
With a budget of $12 million, it was the most expensive Japanese film ever produced up to 1985.
In the 30-minute documentary included in this DVD, Kurosawa tells the interviewer, "This film is my lifework and I want to put all the energy left inside me into this film."
As he said, this film turns out one of the best movies.

Dec 21, 2011

Clearly I didn't get this film. Others have identified it as a classic reworking of Japanese drama and King Lear. I just found it interminable, bloody, and mostly incomprehensible. (The lack of comprehension was not due to the language barrier so much as what I perceived as a very rigid, hierarchical male viewpoint.)

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Jun 23, 2017

I am lost...
Such is the human condition.

Aug 30, 2009

Do not blaspheme! It is the gods who weep. They see us killing each other... over and over since time began. They can't save us from ourselves. Don't cry! It's how the world is made. Men prefer sorrow over joy... suffering over peace.


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