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Japan 1985
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
167 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemiongway
4.5 stars


Brilliant staging and cinematography make this reworking of King Lear transposed to the setting of feudal Japan one of the finest cinema spectacles that you are ever likely to see The battle scenes are marvels of mass choreography and there is a judicious interplay between the clangour of the battle scenes and the loneliness of the isolated characters in the empty landscape or empty interiors as we follow the tragic story of Grand Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) and the chaos (the meaning of the film's Japanese title) when hecedes his power to his two worthless sons. Although evincing sympathy for him, Kurosawa also adopts a Buddhistic tone, suggesting that his lot is the bitter fruit of the ruthlessness that brought him to power in the first place.

Whilst the film is in many ways a re-visitation of Throne Of Blood Kurosawa's 1957 reworking of 'Macbeth', the stunning use of colour (often set against the ashen slopes of Mount Fuji) gives it a spectacular dimension that the earlier film did not have and it needs to be seen on the big screen to be appreciated fully. In places some of the prosthetic work looks a little amateurish and these could have been pruned but this is a small flaw in what is arguably Kurosawa's finest achievement in the samourai film category




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