Pete's Blog

Great Movie

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I watched Akira Kurosawa's film "Ran" tonight. I saw it in a theatre in NYC when it came out in 1985, but it's actually more impressive on the small screen despite its vast open hillsides and spectacular batttle scenes. There's so much movement and the shots are so vivid It can be too overwhelming up on the side of a wall. You miss things in the tumult. The story resets Shakespeare's "King Lear" in medieval Japan, although the period is left vague - the armies use what appear to be 19th-century European-style rifles and they ride horses. I don't know, were horses native to Japan or were they imported the way they were to North America? The stylisation of the acting and the social rigidity of the culture being shown makes the breakdown of order and hierarchy after Lear divides his kingdom almost too terrible to bear. You really see the whole world fall apart. And while in Shakespeare the King divides the kingdom among his daughters, whose husbands then intrigue away the peace, in "Ran" the king has three sons, who immediately begin to fight each other, egged on by a scheming wife. She finally gets hers in a scene which should appeal to anyone who liked Tarantino's "Kill Bill" movies. But there''s a lot more than simple chop-socky going on. Kurosawa is a poet with a camera. He has John Ford's genius with large-scale movement and Bergman's use of stillness to build intensity in small scenes. Every shot is a masterpiece. I had a great time at Hazel and Genevieve's going-away party Saturday night, where I played a lot of Cajun music. Cajun guitar parts are simple and strummy but the tunes are so strong that's it's just great fun. Thank's Hazel for being so good to Caleb when he was here and Happy Landings you two! vvv

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