Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ran (Kurosawa, 1985)

Caught this one on this rainy Cambridgian night at The Harvard Film Archive. Kurosawa was 75 years old when he made this picture, and as such, only 98% of the frames are perfect. The influence of John Ford--especially The Searchers--is heavy here, particularly in the pre-battle scenes, which use horses on hills to visually articulate hierarchy.

A great film, and a great salve to Lee Siegel's moronic piece about Freud in The New York Times book review, in which he blames the great septum deviator AND cinema for ruining character. First he argues: "For all the rich work published after the war, there's barely a fictional figure that has the memorableness of a Gatsby, a Nick Adams, a Baron Charlus, a Leopold Bloom, a Settembrini." Um, hm, let's see: Augie March, Nathan Zuckerman, Frank Wheeler, and Herzog all seem to be far more fascinating than Baron Charlus. Then he writes: "How many movie characters can you think of -- with the exception, perhaps, of Citizen Kane -- whose names have the archetypal particularity of Isabel Archer or Sister Carrie?" Let's see: Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta, Cabiria, Sam Spade, Octave, Tracy Flick, Yojimbo, Darth Vader, E.T., Viridiana. Sister Carrie?!?!?!?!?! It's this kind of snobbery that makes the publishing industry so yakky. If you want to complain that there hasn't been a man in fiction richer than Konstantin Levin, that is fine: just don't blame it on the movies. The aridity of our current literature is more due to po-mo cutesy trickery than DVDs.

Sorry for that. Anyway, see "Ran." It'll rip your nuts out.


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