Tag Archives: Akira Kurosawa

The Set of 400: #321 – My Favorite Feudal Asian Shakespeare

Today! Because in a mad world only the mad are sane –

Ran (乱) (1985)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu, Mieko Harada, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Mansai Nomura

Akira Kurosawa’s brilliant retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, Ran was named Best Movie of the Last 25 Years, in a very informal on-campus poll conducted during my second year of college (Keystone, represent!). Sure, maybe we were all being hoity-toity intellectuals at the time – Ran being the only Japanese film on that list, almost for sure – but that’s not to dull this film’s greatness. It’s a sweeping triumph, epic in every sense of the word, featuring hundreds of extras and horses, mammoth location shooting at Mount Aso and Mount Fuji, a budget nearly double that of any previous Japanese production, and a filming/planning process that occupied a decade. And it’s all on the screen, this giant, fatalistic masterpiece of a country and family falling apart in 16th century Japan. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #394 – My Favorite Sword-Wielding Goofball

Today! Because the enemy isn’t a bunch of sparrows and crows –

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai) (1954)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Yukiko Shimazaki, Yoshio Inaba, Daisuke Kato, Seiji Miyaguchi, Minoru Chiaki, Isao Kimura, Yoshio Tsuchiya

This one is a major outlier on the entire list. Not to spoil the forthcoming year(s), but don’t expect a ton of foreign films down the road, and really don’t anticipate this kicking off a deluge of samurai films. I mean, I love me some shitty kung fu movies, the ones you find in dollar bins at the Steamtown Malls of the world (Shoutout, downtown Scranton, PA!), but you won’t see them crop up in the limited space of my favorite movies ever made. Sorry, Catman in Lethal Track!

But don’t sleep on this movie, if you like unmitigated garbage

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