Ran [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Studio Canal
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (15th May 2016).
The Film

“Ran” (1985)

Hidetora (played by Tatsuya Nakadai), the eldery Lord of the Ichimonji clan decides to divide his kingdom among his three sons. To demonstrate his plan, he gives a single arrow for them to break in half, which is easily done. But when three arrows are bundled together and tried to be broken, they cannot - signifying that the powers of three combined is much stronger than a singular one. Taro (played by Akira Terao) the eldest accepts the responsibility of becoming the leader of the first castle, while Jiro (played by Jinpachi Nezu) the second son also accepts the leadership of the second. Saburo (played by Daisuke Ryu) the third son speaks his mind to say that their father is making the wrong decision, accusing him of losing his mind due to old age, and even shows that it is possible to break the bundle of arrows if forced to do so. Hidetora sees the defiance as a way of disloyalty banishes Saburo as well as the trusty servant Tango (played by Masayuki Yui) for trying to defend Saburo’s words.

Though Saburo and Tango seemingly have nowhere to go, Lord Fujimaki (played by Hitoshi Ueki) was quite impressed with their acts of honesty that he gives them positions for his castle. Saburo considers the prospects and is quite pleased, but Tango vows his honor toward Hidetora and decides to stay close to the Lord even if he is considered banished. For Taro, his wife Lady Kaede (played by Mieko Harada) is pleased with his rise to power but is planning much more than just being a Lord’s wife. As Kaede’s family was wiped out by Hidetora and she was forced into marriage with the Ichimonji clan, she is displeased that Hidetora is still considered a Lord even with the throne abdicated. As she starts influencing her husband to consider the true merits of being the supreme Lord, the kingdom and the family start to fall apart while reopening old wounds.

“Ran” was co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa and released in 1985 - a full five years since his acclaimed previous film, the samurai epic “Kagemusha”. “Ran”, which the kanji character is written as 乱 literally means “chaos” but as a character written on its own does not have a singular meaning. It would be like writing the letter “C” in English. It has no particular meaning unless it was paired with other words. 乱 could be used in words such as 混乱 “konran” meaning “confusion”, 乱暴 “ranbo” which means “violence” (which yes, the movie character of “John Rambo” was named after the Japanese word), 乱心 “ranshin” which means “distraction”. 乱 can also be read alternately as “midare” which means “askew”. Any of these words could easily fit the plot points of the film and the title can have multiple meanings. Originally started as a draft years ago as a biopic on the Japanese daimyo Mori Motonari - who famously was said to have demonstrated the single arrow / bundle of arrows analogy to his sons, Kurosawa incorporated the story of William Shakespeare’s tale of “King Lear”. Instead of the successful continuation of the kingdom in the case of Mori, what if the sons disagreed? In “King Lear” the king has three daughters, but as in feudal Japan it would have been most unlikely that a kingdom would have been succeeded by a daughter, the story was changed to three sons. As stated, “Ran” takes place in Japan in the 1600’s - the Sengoku period or the Warring States period when warlords were claiming territories rather than a singular Empirical rule of the country. This was not the first time that Kurosawa tackled Shakespeare. “Throne of Blood” in 1957 was a take on “MacBeth” in the Sengoku period while “The Bad Sleep Well” in 1960 was a take on “Hamlet” but based in the business world of modern Japan.

While Kurosawa made films that took place in various periods of time including modern settings, it was always his samurai films that made the largest impact for audiences both in Japan and internationally. Kurosawa’s black and white samurai films such as “Seven Samurai”, “The Hidden Fortress”, and “Yojimbo” had a lot of action and entertainment with huge spectacle in sets, battles, and characters while also impacting on moral statements. The later color samurai films “Kagemusha” and “Ran” on the other hand were much bleaker, darker, and nihilistic. The moral tales were there and they hit like a punch, and not only in those two. “Dreams” (1990) had criticism over nuclear power and radiation fallout in a few of the segments and “Rhapsody in August” (1991) was a modern family drama that was shadowed heavily by the effects of war lingering years later. “Ran” is undeniably Kurosawa’s bleakest effort. There is no redemption story, no moral reconsiderations, and no happy ending. It was in many ways how Kurosawa saw the world through his own eyes at the time.

Many see the Hidetora character as a mirror of Kurosawa himself - an aging warlord (aging film director) that everyone saw as a strict tyrant on the battlefront (on the film set), now losing his mind. From the 1950’s since his internationally recognized “Rashomon” until 1965’s “Red Beard”, Kurosawa worked constantly at a pace of almost one film a year, but the films became more extravagant in scale and cost, but even with good box office returns in Japan, the rising costs of his films became much harder to finance for distributor Toho, as television viewership was rising. Post “Red Beard” Kurosawa productions had a difficult time securing funding and distribution, leading to about one film every 5 years and funding coming from places outside of Japan - Mosfilm (Russia) for “Dersu Uzala” (1975), 20th Century Fox for “Kagemusha” (1980), Greenwich Films (France) for “Ran”, and Warner Brothers for “Dreams” (1990). Securing finances for a demanding 75-year old director was not an easy task post-“Heaven’s Gate”. Hidetora is not the only character that mirrors Kurosawa. The jester Kyoami (played by Peter) is very much a voice of Kurosawa - with a cynical and comical look at the world. True the Kyoami character can be annoying at times but he is like the character of Olaf in Disney’s “Frozen” - seemingly unnecessary in plot to move forward, but without a little bit of off-center humor the audience would be in a continuous state of sadness and nihilism. With his occasional outbursts of reality check, it continuously lets the characters and the audience members see the trivialness of the entire situation. Tango the servant speaks the truth that Kurosawa often does - not sugarcoating and making things easier to swallow but speaking directly that “this is right” and “that is wrong”. The final scene between the two is pretty much Kurosawa talking to himself, criticizing the Gods that laugh at the faces of humankind killing each other pitilessly while at the same time thinking that the Gods are also weeping thinking how mortals could do such a thing to each other, not cherishing life but living off greed and ego consumed by power. Relying on the Gods is shit, and belief in the good of mankind is also shit. Although “Ran” is a very violent film with a large amount of dead bodies, on screen deaths, mutilations, impalements, and a lot of blood, Kurosawa has stated many times that he is not a fan of violence. But after seeing the horrors of natural disasters, nuclear wars, and human indifference, he has stated that looking away from the violence will not make things better. Acknowledging the horrors can only make people realize it.

Please note there are spoilers in this next portion
Nobody has a happy ending in “Ran”. Consumed by vengeance many of the characters are offed one by one. Taro is shot by a sniper under Jiro’s lead which effectively makes Jiro the Lord. Lady Kaede who rivals Lady MacBeth and Hamlet in terms of rise to power through marriage and years of vengeance plotting through influence has probably the most memorable and shockingly gory death with a wall of blood spattering. Not even the good people make it out unscathed. Saburo who is honest enough to sacrifice his power from his father is still a loving son, but meets an unlikely end through a sniper. Lady Sue (played by Yoshiko Miyazaki) who decided not to let vengeance overcome her by believing in the words of Buddah - gets beheaded mercilessly by the orders of Lady Kaede. Her younger brother, Tsurumaru (played by Takeshi Nomura) who wanted vengeance on Lord Hidetora for blinding him is able to find solace with his flute and his belief in Buddah’s words, but he probably has the bleakest ending - standing on the edge of a wall of the ruins of his old castle home, the loss of the scroll of Buddah that he kept by his side, the sister that is never to return to his side, and without his flute. He is alive, but completely alone in the world in darkness - exactly the dream that Hidetora had at the beginning of the film. Even the people behind the scenes - sound recordist for “Ran” Fumio Yanoguchi who had worked with Kurosawa on many films in the past, died during production. Kurosawa’s wife Yoko Yaguchi who acted in one of Kurosawa’s earliest films, the aptly titled “The Most Beautiful”, also passed away during the production of “Ran”.

Tatsuya Nakadai was just over 50 years old when he played Hidetora who was supposed to be in his 80s. Following hours of grueling makeup, Nakadai transformed himself as the aging maddened warlord, performing the extremely difficult role. At times he is commanding and scary. At other times he is like a clown or an elderly figure with Alzheimer’s disease. The range performed is truly like theater rather than reality. Nakadai has worked with Kurosawa over many years in various roles from villains (“Yojimbo”) to detectives (“High and Low”) in supporting roles, but it was 1980’s “Kagemusha” that finally pushed him to leading man for a Kurosawa film. Though he wasn’t the first choice, as originally the actor Shintaro Katsu was to play the lead but was replaced due to constant disagreements with Kurosawa on set. Nakadai replaced him through emergency casting but proved himself well enough for Kurosawa to cast him as Hidetora. It was said that during the production of “Kagemusha” that Nakadai was seriously injured after he fell off his horse, leading to a 10 day delay in production. Not to repeat the same mistake, Nakadai bought two horses for himself, practiced horseriding for half a year prior to the production of “Ran”. Although it is only the opening hunting scene in which he is showing off his riding skills but the scene is an impressive introduction.

The casting of Peter as Kyoami was an interesting and unconventional choice. Born Shinnosuke Ikehata, he went under the stage name “Peter” and was one of the first mainstream gay / crossdressing actors in Japanese entertainment, making his cinematic debut at only 17 years old in the 1969 film “Funeral Parade of Roses”, the influential gay counterculture film as the lead actor. Since then he has been a major fixture on television and the entertainment world continuously through until present day 2016. Kyoami was not necessarily androgynous or female-like but almost child-like even though Peter was in his early 30s already. The second half of the film the character expresses a lot of cynicism and anger which is completely different from the first half. As said he is not exactly a necessary character in terms of plot but his presence is undeniable.

Mieko Harada’s character of Lady Kaede is one of the most powerfully sinister in all of Kurosawa’s works, played incredibly by the then-25 year old actress. Though it is mostly through stilted dialogue and expressionless drawn on eyebrows, the physical demanding scenes such as the knife scenes are of amazing precision. Apparently Harada was quite embarrassed after watching the finished film that the character didn’t seem as deep as she had thought, but that is the power of cinema - objectively she is not given a very deep backstory, but the audience can fill in the details of whatever they believe - how her family was wiped out, how happy or unhappy she is with her relationship with Taro, and her conviction until the very end.

One cannot discuss “Ran” without mentioning the visuals and colors. Instead of traditional storyboards, Kurosawa used full color paintings to convey his vision. The full scale paintings were detailed in who wore what colors, how shots were to be framed, and how the film would essentially flow. Hidetora was given colorful gold, red, white kimonos depending on scenes. The three sons wore primary colors - Taro in yellow, Jiro in red, and Saburo in blue, with their armies also showing loyalty with the colored flags. Costumes designed by Emi Wada were gorgeously designed in detail to Kurosawa’s notes, and characters have a certain look and color that distinguishes from each other. For the visuals, Kurosawa made sure to have everything in certain detailed colors - black night scenes have a blue hue, red sunsets were accentuated with lighting with red filters. With such amazing uses of color in the film, it’s a wonder that it took him so long to finally shoot in color in 1970 with the visually arresting and highly underrated “Dodesukaden”. There are many shots of the sky in the film. Sometimes for time jumps, sometimes to pillow shots together. One can interpret these as a sign from the heavens - the Gods watching over the humans. When Kyoami tells the story of the rabbit at the beginning of the film, it’s as if the Gods were smiling down with the following sky shot with a cloud formation that looks just like a giant rabbit. Did Kyoami see this to make up the story or did the clouds form after the story was told? Later during the large battle scene when the clouds obscure the sun’s rays, it is as if the sun represents the eyes of a God and the rays are tears of sadness seeing the senseless violence.

The same goes for the music score, composed by the great avant garde artist Toru Takemitsu who previously scored for Kurosawa on the film “Dodesukaden”. What separates “Ran” from other samurai films are two points. First, the score is very sparingly used. The opening string theme is quiet, unsettling, and close to ambient sounds rather than a roaring composition to immerse the audience into the film’s world. Most of the film plays without music with ambient sounds and dialogue being the audio. Second, the score is not reliant on Japanese music or instruments. It is much closer to western orchestral music with string instruments. No taiko, no koto, no shamisen in most cases. In the most memorable and most violent sequence of all comes at the battle to kill Hidetora, in which all “real” sound is muted and replaced with the battle score by Takemitsu. Although we see gunfire, arrows shot, horses galloping, soldiers yelling and screaming, it is not to be heard at all on the soundtrack and only a dirge-like hymn plays over the images - like watching a silent movie. It is one of the most impressive soundtrack scores of all Kurosawa’s films even if it lasts for very short periods.

“Ran” was finally released on June 1st 1985 in Japan to positive reviews and was the third highest grossing movie in Japan that year with 1.6 billion yen in ticket sales, just behind the reboot “Godzilla 1984” at 1.7 billion yen and director Kon Ichikawa’s remake of his own “The Burmese Harp” which grossed a staggering 2.9 billion yen - nearly double that of “Ran”. But due to the enormous cost of 2.6 billion yen for “Ran” which at the time was the most expensive Japanese film ever made - it was a commercial failure. The film was nominated for numerous awards around the world and won a large number, including winning two Japanese Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Music Score, two BAFTA awards for Best Make Up and Best Foreign Language Film, and won the US Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Unfortunately the film was not even nominated for “Best Picture” at the Japanese Academy Awards and not even submitted for “Best Foreign Film” at the US Academy Awards, though American director Sidney Lumet played an important role in getting Kurosawa nominated for Best Director. Although fairly well acclaimed on its initial release, “Ran” has only gained in stature over the years. Critics ultimately compared the film to his previous samurai films and placing it as “good” but not as great as “Seven Samurai” (but come on, what is?) or even his previous film “Kagemusha”. After Kurosawa’s passing on September 6th, 1998, film fans around the world mourned the loss of one of the greatest artists in all of cinema, and also gave way for revisiting and recritiquing all his films. “Ran” was seen in a new light with Kurosawa’s passing paralleling the death of Hidetora and his life in whole. “Ran” was not only reassessed as one of Kurosawa’s greatest films but also one of the greatest Shakespeare film adaptations ever made.

Note this is a region B Blu-ray which can only be played back on region B and region free Blu-ray players

Video

Studio Canal presents the film in 1080p in the theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio in the AVC MPEG-4 codec. For the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, the film has gone through a meticulous 4K restoration by Éclair labs in France from the original negative with cinematographer Shoji Ueda approving the color timing. Throughout the years on different home video releases from VHS to LD to DVD to Blu-ray, the differences in the color timing and transfers ranged from overly bright to overly dark. I’ve previously encountered various editions of “Ran” on DVD and the 2005 Criterion Collection DVD was very good in picture at the time, but that was transferred from the internegative print and not the original negative.

For the 4K remastered Blu-ray the colors look very different from whatever was previously released, and that will be the cause of many debates. The new transfer is heavy on blue hues and is darker than the Criterion DVD. The primary colors of Taro, Jiro, and Saburo look very good with deep colors and subtle hues. Detail is extremely good and the image is always stable. The only times that the film lacks full detail is when the original negative was not used - the opening shots with printed credits used a secondary source for example, and are a little blurry compared to the rest of the film. The credits themselves are sharp but the rest of the frame looks weak. (The credits are as is, and Ishiro Honda’s name in English written incorrectly has not been fixed.) But other than that, once the boar steps into frame everything looks beautiful. Stability was also always an issue with previous DVD editions. Compare the Criterion Collection DVD and the opening credits are a little wobbly. The new Studio Canal Blu-ray eliminates that and is absolutely stable with no issues of wobbliness of pin registration errors. The original negative had problematic points such as glue marks, torn frames, and scratches which were all removed and repaired digitally frame by frame. Grain is still visible and there are no problems with scratches, dust, or debris to be found. It’s superbly clean.

Overall watching the 4K restored “Ran” is like watching the film completely different experience. Some will find the new color timing distracting. Others who have never seen the film before will find it a beautiful work of art and will probably not go back to watching the older transfers.

The film itself is uncut with a runtime of 160:39, which is slightly shorter than the Japanese 4K restoration and the previous Studio Canal Blu-ray which ran 162 minutes. This is due to the inclusion of the French language end credits and the restoration text running 1:30, as opposed to the 3:33 runtime of the Japanese language end credits.

Audio

There are two original Japanese tracks and a few dub tracks available:

Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo


The Japanese tracks are offered in both a remixed 5.1 track and the original 2.0 stereo track. The 5.1 track is mostly a front heavy affair, with dialogue entirely coming from the center speaker and ambient sounds from the left and right plus rear surrounds. When the music score and the battle scenes kick in, the surrounding speakers become more aggressive, but this is a pretty quiet track overall. Prepare to raise the volume a few decibels higher than the usual case. The 2.0 stereo track is also quite good with a good separation for the music and ambient noise.

There are optional English, French, German subtitles for the film in a white font. The colloquial English subtitles are very well done, conveying a tone that fits the original Japanese dialogue of the upper class at the time. To note, all three subtitle languages are true subtitles and none of them are dubtitles.

Extras

Studio Canal previously released the film on Blu-ray under the “Studio Canal Collection” banner. All the video extras from that edition have been carried over to this new edition with the exception of the Theatrical Trailer. The previous edition had the film and all the extras on one Blu-ray while this 4K remastered edition has the film and one featurette on one Blu-ray and the rest of the extras on a second Blu-ray. The discs both open with a choice of “Deutschland / France / United Kingdom” in which the menus will change to German/French/English respectively.
For DISC ONE the lone featurette extra has optional subtitles. For DISC TWO, the subtitles are NOT optional. For English menus, all the non-English portions have forced English subtitles. For French menus, all the non-French portions have forced French subtitles. For German menus, all the non-German portions have forced German subtitles. The subtitles cannot be turned off or switched by remote control. The extras are as follows:

DISC ONE (Blu-ray)

"Ran - The Restoration" featurette (9:02)
The French restoration team at Éclair labs talk about the restoration process and the difficulties they encountered. Cinematographer Shoji Ueda is also interviewed for a few additional comments on the 4K restoration.
in 1080i 50hz, in 1.78:1, in French/Japanese with optional English and German subtitles for the entire featurette and optional French subtitles for the Japanese portions)

As mentioned prior, for DISC TWO, the subtitles are NOT optional. For English menus, all the non-English portions have forced English subtitles. For French menus, all the non-French portions have forced French subtitles. For German menus, all the non-German portions have forced German subtitles. The subtitles cannot be turned off or switched by remote control.

DISC TWO (Blu-ray)

"A.K." documentary by Chris Marker (71:35)
French avant garde artist Chris Marker had complete on-set access to chronicle the 1984/1985 film shoot of “Ran”. Capturing the conditions of unpredictable weather, the uneven ground on the slopes of Mount Aso, Kurosawa’s meticulous directing style, and everything else, Marker sculpts a fly-on-the-wall type of documentary void of in-depth interviews. There are moments of Kurosawa talking to Marker via audio tapes and not on camera. The documentary was first screened at Cannes in 1985, prior to the release of “Ran” which did not play at Cannes that year. The documentary has been included as a DVD and Blu-ray supplement on various past releases. The film presented here looks very good, coming from the original film source. The 24fps versions run 74 minutes while this 25fps version runs at 71 minutes. Nothing is cut.
in 1080i 50hz, in 1.66:1, in French/Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0)

"Akira Kurosawa: The Epic and The Intimate" documentary (41:49)
This French documentary features interviews with a multitude of people involved in the production of “Ran” - Ulli Pickardt, Bernard Cohn, Bertrand Raison, Vittorio Dalle Ore, Teruyo Nogami, Hisako Kurosawa and others are interviewed, reminiscing about the very long shoot of the film and the difficulties encountered with the meticulous Kurosawa. This was originally on the French Studio Canal DVD edition and later on the original Studio Canal Collection Blu-ray.
in 480i, in 1.85:1, in French/Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0

"Akira Kurosawa by Catherine Cadou" featurette (14:04)
Cadou was hired as Kurosawa’s interpreter for “Kagemusha” at Cannes, but since he took to her so much, he requested for her each time he went to Europe. Essentially she became Kurosawa’s personal interpreter and great friend. She reminisces about many of the conversations they had outside the usual press conferences and how he was very well treated as a person and as an artist in France. This was originally on the French Studio Canal DVD edition and later on the original Studio Canal Collection Blu-ray.
in 480i, in windowboxed 1.33:1, in French Dolby Digital 2.0

"Art of the Samurai" documentary (41:11)
Historian Jean-Christophe Charbonnier analyzes the samurai’s weapons and armor, samurai rituals, and more in this interview. The interview does make mentions to “Ran” but it is not specifically commenting on the film itself but on samurai in general. Featured are clips of the film, though dubbed in French. This was originally on the French Studio Canal DVD edition and later on the original Studio Canal Collection Blu-ray.
in 480i, in 1.78:1, in French Dolby Digital 2.0

Interview with the Director of Photography Shôji Ueda (10:25)
In this new interview, Ueda talks about the many challenges of shooting “Ran” and also how some things were actually quite easy. He talks about how multi camera setups, long takes, and waiting for the perfect weather were actually the easiest things for the camera operators, although they were be much more difficult for actors and other technicians involved. He also discusses how important the color scheme was and how Kurosawa was extremely conscious of every aspect of the creation of the film.
in 1080i 50hz, in 1.78:1, in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Interview with actress Mieko Harada (20:42)
In this new interview, Harada reminisces about being a cocky 25 year old actress, the difficulties shooting the long takes and the physical action scenes with the knives as well as remembering Kurosawa himself. Why this interview is framed at 2.40:1 is a mystery. This is clearly shot on HD video yet it is in a non-standard ratio for video. This interview is also available on the Japanese 4K remastered Blu-ray edition.
in 1080i 50hz, in 2.40:1, in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Interview with critic Michael Brooke (16:13)
In this new interview, English critic Michael Brooke gives a very speedy interview covering Kurosawa’s career as well as the making of “Ran” and the themes of the film. The interview is shot on a single camera set-up with only one or two breaks in between. For anyone that wants a crash course in Kurosawa, the information is here, but it might be too much too quick for Kurosawa newcomers.
in 1080i 50hz, in 1.66:1, in English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

"Stage appearance at Tokyo International Film Festival 2015" featurette (15:00)
On October 25th 2015 at TIFF, actor Tatsuya Nakadai, actress Mieko Harada, costume designer Emi Wada, production manager Teruyo Nogami, and assistant director Vittorio Dalle Ole reminisce about the shoot. Nakadai talks about riding lessons, Harada having to shaver her eyebrows, and more. The audio is a little difficult to hear since the sound is not coming from the microphones directly but from the speakers instead.
in 1080i 50hz, in 1.78:1, in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

"The Samurai" documentary (52:47)
This TV documentary from 2000 is a basic history of samurai featuring interviews with experts, clips of samurai films including “Harakiri”, paintings, and behind the scenes clips of samurai movie making. Also included are footage of tea ceremony, archery, horse riding, and swordplay. Not necessarily a documentary connected to Kurosawa or “Ran” but his name is referenced at times. The interviews are originally in Japanese but have been overdubbed by the narrator. The documentary has English narration, French narration, or German narration. The audio tracks cannot be changed via remote, but the audio is automatically chosen depending on the menu’s language. This was originally on the French Studio Canal DVD edition and later on the original Studio Canal Collection Blu-ray.
in 480i, in 1.33:1, in forced English Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0, or German Dolby Digital 2.0

Booklet
Included is a 20 page booklet with cast and crew credits, photos, and the essay “A World Gone Wrong - An Introduction to Kurosawa’s Ran” written by David Jenkins. In the essay it is quoted as the film cost 260 million yen (and other places also quoted as such) but the actual cost adds one more zero and is correctly 2.6 billion yen which in 1985 terms was around US $11 million.

With about 5 hours of video based extras, it seems that there is not much else to add to the extras, you think? But even with the wealth of extras put here, there are a lot of things missing from this set. First off, none of the original or re-issue trailers are offered. There are no audio commentaries either. The Criterion DVD had one by scholar Stephen Prince, The Wellspring DVD also had the Prince commentary along with one by Peter Grilli, and the new Japanese 4K remastered Blu-ray had a newly recorded commentary by production managers Teruyo Nogami and Satoru Iseki. The Criterion DVD also had the “Image” feature which were the full color Kurosawa storyboard paintings matched with the corresponding dialogue, a 2005 interview with Nakadai, a 2005 interview with Sidney Lumet, and the “It Is Wonderful to Create” 30 minute documentary created for the Toho DVDs released in Japan. The new Japanese 4K remastered Blu-ray also features a newly created 88 minute documentary on the making of the film. The “It Is Wonderful to Create” and “Image” extras are some of the best and most essential of extras for the film and it is a shame that they could not be included on the Studio Canal Blu-ray.

Packaging

The two discs are in a standard Blu-ray case housed in a slipcase. The slipcase art is identical to that of the inlay. 4 color artcards are also included with the booklet in the case. Not as classy as the Digibook special case of the older "Studio Canal Collection" Blu-ray edition.

Overall

“Ran” is certainly one of the most personal works in director Akira Kurosawa’s filmography and is his last big budget epic film. It’s an unforgettable and unrivaled work of cinematic art. With age and multiple viewings the themes grow bigger and also darker, as it confronts with the fears of aging, death, and abandonment - things that every human being starts to feel more and more of as they age. Studio Canal’s Blu-ray of the 4K restored film gives great video and audio, albeit possibly controversial for color timing (as this film’s video releases always have been!), and gives very lengthy supplemental material. The supplements could have been better in content, though it still comes as very recommended.

The Film: A+ Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: B Overall: A

 


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