Ran is a full-length Japanese feature film that was both written and directed by the famous Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa. It was released in 1985 and, like many Kurosawa films, is set in a historical time period. This one is known as a jidaigeki, which is considered to be a period drama. It is a mixture of the legend of a great leader named Mori Motonari and King Lear. Kurosawa was a great fan of Shakespeare and made quite a few movies based on his plays.
While this was not Kurosawa’s last movie, it is considered to be the last epic he ever wrote or directed. The movie cost an unheard of twelve million dollars. While movies now a days can easily cost ten times that amount, back then, especially in Japan, the amount was huge. It is still considered to be one of the more expensive movies produced to come out of Japan. It was nominated for and won numerous awards.
The movie is about the leader of a clan named Hidetora. He decides that his three sons are old enough to take over some of the vast kingdom so he divvies things up between them. He gives his oldest son, Taro, the job of leading the First Castle. Taro is also in line to become the leader to the clan when Hidetora dies. His second son, Jiro, gets the Second Castle and his third son, Saburo, gets he Third Castle. Hidetora expects Jiro and Saburo to assist Taro in whatever ways they can, and Hidetora believes that he will remain the “Overlord”.
Saburo, the third son, approaches his father and explains that he is foolish to believe that all three of them will remain loyal to him when he, himself, got his kingdom through lies and deceit. Hidetora, enraged, banishes Saburo and his loyal servant Tango. The first son, Taro, has a wife named Lady Kaede. Lady Kaedo sees the immense power that can be had and starts pushing her husband to take full control away from Hidetora. She holds a grudge against Hidetora, has vowed revenge and plans on using Taro to get that revenge.
Hidetora ends up being banished by his sons and ends up going into a sort of forced exile. He tries to kill himself but can not even manage that. The combination of his failure and of his son’s betrayal drives him to the brink of insanity. He is found by Tango, who takes him in and tries to help him. Meanwhile, Jiro appoints his general, Kurogane, to kill his brother, Taro, Kurogane is successful and Jiro becomes the leader of the clan. Lady Kaede seduces Jiro into her bed and demands that he kill his wife, Sué. For once Kurogane does not heed his lords wishes and instead helps Sué to escape.
An epic battle ensues between Jiro and his third brother, Saburo, who ends up reuniting with his father. A war is begun to take control over the clan while Kaede does her best to control and manipulate the situation in order to bring about the destruction of Hidetora and his entire clan.