Re: RARA-AVIS: Kurosawa and English subtitles

From: David Moran (
Date: 06 Jul 2004

Jim Beaver wrote:

> I dearly love THRONE OF BLOOD, but I think you are in a distinct minority of
> opinion regarding RAN. I daresay RAN is considered, by most critics, to be
> one of the great films of all time, from any nation. (It currently stands
> at #78 in the IMDb's Top 250 films of All Time list -- not necessarily an
> intellectual signpost, but with an 8.4 out of 10 average viewer rating,
> clearly not what most viewers think of as a "hideous mess.") I tend to
> prefer Kurosawa's films with Toshirô ©fune, but RAN is, IMHO, staggeringly
> staged, beautiful beyond measure to look at, and thematically clear as a
> bell.
> I think STRAY DOG could stand with almost any American noir.

I have heard of people who have such a high opinion of "Ran," but I've never met one. No offense intended, but that's the kind of movie that makes me think the whole world is completely insane. Sometimes I can look at movies I don't like and at least see the things in them that other people like...but "Ran" has to me always been a bloated, overlong, confused, shambling and almost absurdly garish mistake in the filmography of a great film director. Generally, I think he was pretty much headed toward senility by then...his seventies stuff ain't so great, and everything after "Ran" is for the birds ("Akira Kurosawa's Dreams", in particular, always struck me as a sign that the body was willing but the mind completely disabled.)

But everybody's got at least one movie like that...that the whole world seems to
"get" but which remains utterly opaque to you. You think maybe you underestimated the movie on first watching it--one billion IMDB posters can't be wrong--and so you watch it again were right the first time...definitely hated that movie.

Also, like I said before, I am perhaps not the greatest evaluator of the works of Akira Kurosawa. I think he's a great director, but he's always been in my mind an American who works in the Japanese film industry. "The Seven Samurai" is a fine western (even if there are no sixguns), but ultimately...I'd rather have a John Ford or a Howard Hawks (or even an Anthony Mann) making my westerns.

Ozu and Mizoguchi have for me always been more quintessentially "Japanese". Ozu made a few genre pictures, juvenile-delinquent movies and a milquetoast yakuza pic or two, but mostly he's a genre unto himself; and Mizoguchi did make at least one great samurai film ("The 47 Ronin" is swell, if overlong) but his main gig was whores and fallen women. Neither man has the thumping guns-n-swords action pulse that Kurosawa does, but nobody breaks my heart like those two guys.

David Moran

# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 06 Jul 2004 EDT