The genius of a
film can sometimes be betrayed
by too much info.
But not in this case. More about that in a sec. Well, having watched Ran I can report it was a great film to watch. So glad I bought it. I might even try and get King Lear out now and see how it compares. I must see about getting Kagemusha on dvd. That sounds like a great one too.
The accompanying dvd with the `making of` documentary was also quite interesting. Sometimes they can be a bit dull and I`m not too fond of them generally because knowing too much about the making of a film can take away the magic / genius of the final product, but this one was great as it showed all the troubles the crew had on set – mostly weather related – and how patient they were in dealing with these annoyances, or how they just got around them. You also learn a few interesting things about Kurosawa himself. I`ve got two more of his films in some shape or form and both of them are great too. Madadayo, his final film from 1993, and Rashomon with that brilliant actor, Toshiro Mifune (Madadayo does go on a little bit too long but overall it`s very enjoyable).
One of the interesting things I learned about Akira Kurosawa was the day, when he was an 8 year old boy, when he was confronted with the dark moments of life and human nature – the chaos of life if you will. Ran in particular means chaos but it`s not only in his film Ran where Kurosawa depicts chaos. In the days following the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, his older brother decided to take him around the ruins of Tokyo and encouraged him to keep his eyes open and not be afraid of the horrors he saw. His brother told him basically that if you opened your eyes to frightening things, instead of keeping them shut, you won`t be as scared and of course you`ll learn a lot about human nature. Obviously, most of the things he saw were corpses from the earthquake and subsequent fires but also the corpses of Koreans who had been targeted by Japanese gangs in retaliation for the earthquake. Just an excuse of course for people to act out their extreme zenophobia. You would think people had other things to concern themselves with but no, many Koreans were irrationally made the scapegoat and massacred in the days following the earthquake, which is a very dark area of Japan`s internal history. Japan these days prides itself on its lack of crime during disasters which is abundant in other places around the world (looting during riots or following earthquakes) and so it should because, in the aftermath of 3.11 for example, there was little to no looting. However, back in 1923, it was a different story by the sounds of things and if looting was the worst thing that happened, that would have been a relief (for want of a better word) but racially-motivated murder is another thing altogether.
Akira Kurosawa conveyed human nature, both the bad and the good (which were not always so obvious) in all his films. Excellent.