Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ran (1985)

armies have lined up on hills for a long time to gain a strategic advantage. while having the high ground helped tactically, spreading one's forces across a line also gave an impression of a much larger army. none of the great commanders however saw their own armies in cinemascope. kurosawa makes this sight and several other war scenes look so glorious in 'Ran' that soldiers would've stood by and applauded if not for the advancing foes. the movie is a visually delightful adaptation of King Lear.

a warlord father turns over the reigns of his fiefdom to his 3 sons only to find out that he is no longer wanted by 2 of them and the one that he kicked out before is the one who really loves him. the characters of the warlord and his ruthless daughter-in-law who manipulates his sons are the ones that stand out. the outstanding acting of these 2 make you want to empathize with them. kurosawa also employs a jester like character who through an occasional song and dance routine helps the viewer spell out what they may be thinking. weirdly, this kind of reinforcing was somewhat reassuring to me and made me appreciate the movie some more. and i havent even started on the visual yet. the scenes depicting the siege of a castle give the CGI battles of LOTR a run for their money. the man had an uncanny ability to come up with a perfect visual accompaniment to really good storylines. the wikipedia article[] for this films even has a storyboard that shows the planning that went into the castle siege scenes.

the war scenes instantly reminded me of sundari kannal from thalapathi[]. as many on the net point out, mani was sufficiently inspired by kurosawa(and i think this particular movie) to picturise rajni as a samurai warrior on horseback but i have to wonder which of his muses made him cast shobana as a desi village belle. this chronological and geographical mismatch is however rescued by illayaraja's brilliance - soulful love ballad one moment war drums the next.

p.s 'ran' in japanese apparently means chaos..'ranam' in tamil means something similar..the languages probably share a root somewhere..