Ran (1985)
Ran (1985)
Ran (1985)
Ran (1985)
Ran (1985)
Ran (1985)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:

Saturday, August 3, 2024, 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm  
Instructor: Jacob Mazer, Director of Programs and Education, BMFI

Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950) had sparked Western interest in Japanese cinema and kicked off a successful fifteen-year run, but the next fifteen years would be marked by limited productivity and deep depression. Thankfully, the 1980s would prove to be a period of renewal.  

With Ran (1985), the director returned to a favorite genre, the jidaigeki (or period drama), and to a favorite inspiration, William Shakespeare. Having previously tackled Macbeth and Hamlet, Kurosawa set about re-envisioning King Lear as a 16th-century samurai saga. Longtime collaborator Tatsuya Nakadai would play the Lear figure, a petty, aging lord whose attempt to divide his kingdom leads to total ruin. The resulting work would be a high point of Kurosawa’s late period—and his entire career—a film filled with blistering performances, unforgettable images, and, like its source text, summoning an almost elemental power. 

In this seminar, we’ll touch on the film’s production and contextualize it within Kurosawa’s larger body of work. We’ll discuss some of the director’s signature techniques to gain a greater understanding of his visual and dramatic language. We’ll also go back to Shakespeare’s play to pick out some of its key themes, then examine their bearing on this screen rendition. Together, we’ll immerse ourselves in this fascinating film—whose name means “chaos”—and emerge with a comprehension of its structure and order. 

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members


  • Saturday, August 3 · 12:30 pm