Ran Review (1985): Pray that You Do Not Become an Old Fool One Day

The gods are cruel. They watch us for sport. Laugh at our misfortunes. If they are kind, they reward us with great wealth only to be snatched away! Life is filled with uncertainties and free from security. That’s the world we live in–a constant turmoil on the mind!

With current events, we need good leaders. Unfortunately in America, it’s kind of shaky. In Japan, the Prime Minster Shinzō Abe resigned for health reasons. It seems like being a politician is not so glamourous despite the authority that comes with it. Just look at the picture of the main character in this film. The stress in decision making is real, especially if you made the wrong one!

This film is inspired by Shakespeare’s play called King Lear, which is also my favorite tragedy from him. I don’t know if anyone know by now that I really love poetry…oh wait I hope the title of this blog gives it away! Anyway, all things come to an end, and sometimes it ends tragically.

For 50 years, Hidetora  brutally cut down families and conquered lands. By the time he reaches 70 years old, his hunting days became a distant glory. He begins to show affection towards his three sons after having a terrible nightmare about being alone in a foreign land. Hidetora, in his old age, wishes to step down and give his dominion over to his eldest son while his other two sons would act as the eldest son’s support. But we all know: this is a recipe for disaster. What sort of world do we live in? We live in “a world barren of feelings and loyalty, ” as the youngest son pointed out. Even family members back stab one another to obtain power. That’s the reality. It’s a tragic story, but a story we can all pray and hope we do not become old fools.

Watch this film and learn that Karma is a [insert bad word]. You reap what you sow. There are consequences to every action you make in life.  Tragedy makes one wiser. Ran is a timeless film worth watching. I watched it four times before I can summarized this review.  

I Love Beauty and the Beast

A few years ago, I went to see a play to support a co-worker who was one of the performers. Money gained from the play was then given to charity. Not a bad idea to support creative folks and give back to the community.

Assuming you are not familiar with Beauty and the Beast, it’s a tale about a narcissistic prince who denies a shaggy old lady into the palace.  As a punishment, he turns into his true form: a beast! To undo the spell he must learn to love and have love return to him. That’s the only way to be human again.

When I was a kid, I don’t like fairy-tale stories all that much compared to my peers. My first exposure to the fairy-tale was the Walt Disney animated version. I remember out of the Walt Disney films, this was my least favorite. Why, you may wonder?  The depth of this film is just too hard for a child to grasp.

As I became wiser through age, I discovered the beast is not gender specific because beast is a metaphor for one of the ugliest traits found in human beings, and that is conceit!  The moral of the tale is you shouldn’t deny someone based on their appearance. Doesn’t it sound like it is saying don’t be prejudice?  Both the Prince and Belle had to learn that moral lesson together.

There are several Beauty and the Beast versions like the picture book below.

Beauty and the Beast

This version is different from the play as it highlights that inner beauty is found within, and beautiful women do fall in love with “unattractive” men.  After all, attractiveness is really in the eye of the beholder.  I believe Leo Tolstoy mentioned something similar to that in Anna Karenina.

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Finally there is Belle et la Bete (1946) directed by Jean Cocteau. This film is incredibly well done for being black and white. Out of the Beauty and the Beast versions, this one top it all as it has so many symbolism and topics you can extract from. This is my favorite version because it has a strong thesis about how humans cannot fall in love with a beast despite it’s good nature and there is a good reason why.