Man is born crying. When he has cried enough, he dies.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * · · )

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The five star liquidtheater rating is given only to moves that have improved the entire industry of film. It is a movie that redefines genres and creates a platform for other movies to build upon. Ran, by Akira Kurosawa, is one such movie. It is one of the best movies ever made, and although it takes some work for a typical mentally atrophied mainstream audience. Ran is worth the effort.

At the darkest moment of the movie, we watch Hidetora's elite guard, his thirty loyal men, get butchered by the armies of his two eldest sons at the third castle. It is brutal and bloody, soldiers buried under hails of arrows. The entire scene is silent except for the brooding musical score. A single gunshot rings out, breaking the silence and changing the rest of the film. Ran is taught in film schools all over the world as examples of strong cinematography, costume design, set design, character dialog, and cinematic warfare. It is a movie in layers, each viewing giving you some new surface to watch. Whether you are paying attention to the costumes and sets or the story and characters, it is an amazing film. Yes, watching old man Hidetora running around gasping a lot is sometimes tedious, but the horrifying personality of the first husband's wife, Lady Kaede, is amazing. She is by far the most viscous villain I can recall seeing. From the moment of her first scene to her final words, she is colder than the steel sword that severs her head.

Amazon had a special edition release of Ran that included quite a bit of extras including a little heard of Kurosawa flick, many trinkets and artwork, and a very handsome box set. The picture is a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Neither the picture nor the sound are very good, but the quality of the movie more than makes up for it. The collectors set is very nice but I cannot say it is worth the heavy cost (around $100).

Ran defines classic film. The characters are intense, the action is brutal and unrestricted, and the cinematography is wonderful. It is a movie that paves the way for great film. If everyone tried to do as much justice to film as Kurosawa, modern cinema would be a lot better than Charlie's Angels 2