Jakob Mathews’s review published on Letterboxd:
Music Box Theatre, 35mm screening
It feels so incredibly fulfilling to be able to have seen an Akira Kurosawa film on the big screen; there’s something about the overall experience that is energetic and massively special. I’m also really happy that this is my fifth Kurosawa film; after viewing it, it makes it an even more rewarding experience to be accustomed to his style and vision and be absolutely transported into something completely different.
Ran is a masterpiece. From the first frame, you’re welcomed with Kurosawa in Color and it only gets overwhelming from there. There’s something about how he uses color here that honestly feels like an artist using every color to the absolute max potential; he doesn’t just film in color, he brings it to life. Everything from the luscious green landscapes, to the blood soaked wooden floors, to the gorgeous costumes, this film is one of the best and most-mind blowing visual experiences I’ve ever had. Overwhelmed and amazed were constant emotions.
Not only that, but this film is DENSE. Full of larger-than-life and colorful characters, the film presents us with an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear in such a fully-realized and multi-layered way that I felt like I sat through a journey, an entire era of a family’s legacy. Characters fight for power, social status, self-discovery, and revenge (so...a Shakespeare play) in such satisfying and breathtaking ways that I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screening; the story-telling and character development here is next level. Not to mention the exceptional and beautiful performances that help drive its impact forward.
If I HAD to think of any negatives, I’d say the first 20 or so minutes were a tad slow and I was trying to get into it, but that’s almost definitely due to a first time watch and I’m sure my second watch won’t feel like that at all. This was a HUGE film, even more so than Seven Samurai I’d say, not specifically in length, but in ambition. This feels like Kurosawa’s magnum opus to me; a culmination of everything he’d learned and had been aiming for his entire career. What an overwhelming, MASTERFUL films