• 1985
  • Japan/France
  • 2h 42min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
  • Written by: Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Masato Ide
  • Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Mieko Harada
  • Language: Japanese

Kurosawa's 'King Lear' is a bleak and despairing vision of mankind torn apart by disunity, personal vengeances and family feuds that produce no honour, no victors, just victims. An accomplished fusion of Japanese history and blood-drenched Shakespearean drama, this film grows more impressive with repeated viewings.

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Rescheduled after our cancelled screening from 4th May

***A* stunning 4K digital restoration of Akira Kurosawa's (Drunken Angel, Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Rashômon) Ran, his famous interpretation of King Lear as a jidaigeki epic; and the most expensive Japanese film ever produced on its original release in 1985. The restoration has been created by Studiocanal and Japanese production company Kadokawa Pictures.**

‘Ran’ stands for chaos, turmoil or fury in Japanese; all befitting Shakespeare's vision of a nihilistic world turned upside down and revolting against its natural order; dramatising the pain and rage of ageing and its inevitable loss of control.

Borrowing narrative elements from the legend of Mōri Motonari (a 16th century Japanese warlord) as well as the Shakespearean tragedy, Ran stars Tatsuya Nakadai as the vain, arrogant Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji, who at seventy decides to abdicate and divide his domain amongst his three sons, with catastrophic results.

Spectacularly beautiful, with gorgeous, colour-saturated frames, it is an undoubted masterpiece; the product of a breathtaking artistic vision that works as an historical epic and Shakespearean adaptation as well as a bloody, action-packed war film with a silent central battle scene that must be seen to be believed.

The Japanese film-maker’s adaptation of King Lear is still visually and dramatically breathtaking ★★★★★ The Guardian

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Japan/France 1985

Run time: 160 mins 32 seconds

Japanese with English subtitles

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Reviews & features

British Film Institute Akira Kurosawa Centenary

7 Jul 2010

This very impressive British Film Institute touring programme finally reaches the west. Among the many highlights are a new digital restoration of Rashomon plus rare outings for his 1948 gangster flick Drunken Angel and his 1952 dissection of class and…

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