Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa once criticized Shakespeare for being "too wordy." That's a pretty bold statement in the English-speaking world, but Kurosawa backed up his charge by making Ran, his own version of King Lear, which told essentially the same story through a series of arrestingly beautiful images rather than an abundance of words. The basic plot remains the same: Lord Hidetora banishes his youngest son for refusing to offer Hidetora anything but the truth, no matter how painful it may be to hear, and leaves his fief to his duplicitous older sons. These two happy fellows then engage each other in a senseless war for more power, tearing apart the family lands and society at large in their greed. Ran showcases all of Kurosawa's strengths — haunting imagery, poetic displays of brutal violence, the ramifications of living life with honor — without muting the best bits of Shakespeare's voice. Ran opens "Kurosawa at 100," the Webster Film Series' tribute to the great man's centennial year, with a special six-show engagement Friday through Thursday (July 2 through 8, no screening on Wednesday, July 7) at Moore Auditorium on the Webster University campus (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries). The film screens at 7:30 p.m. nightly, and admission is $5 to $6.
July 2-6; Thu., July 8, 2010