The following reveals a few aspects of both King Lear and Ran that mey spoil both stories for anyone yet to read/see them.
King Lear and Ran Comparison
King Lear is one of the greatest tragedies ever written by William Shakespeare.
It is a story that deals with many aspects of the human condition. All of the issues in this complex play are difficult to digest at first, but by viewing a different interpretation of King Lear, such as Kurosawa’s Ran, one can obtain a better understanding of the significance of events and emotions in King Lear. Kurosawa takes all of the important elements out of King Lear and uses them in the same way in Ran, making their importance more obvious. Also, Compared to King Lear, Ran has a lot longer scenes and contains a greater amount of dialogue. This gives greater insight into what is taking place in each scene and provides more detail.
The issues dealt with in the King Lear are universal and when transferred in to Ran stands out against the background of the Japanese culture. After Seeing King Lear performed and then watching the movie Ran the main themes and issues become more apparent as they are the primary link between the two films. Both King Lear and Ran deal with foolishness, revenge, selfishness and the consequences incurred by the mistakes people make. Foolishness is brought up in Both King Lear and Ran by Lear and Hidetora passing on their dynasty to their children before due time they also, in their stubbornness, fail to recognise the protest of their assistants as sound advice.
Revenge is dealt with slightly differently in King Lear then it is in Ran.
In King Lear Edmund seeks revenge on his father and brother for being a mistreated, bastard son with no inheritance. He tries to eliminate his father and brother in order to become the earl of Gloucester. But in the end, revenge is had on Edmund when his brother Edgar kills him for his evil doing. In Ran, Lady Sue (Jiro’s wife) sets out to avenge her father’s death at the hands of Hidetora. She suffers the same fate as Edmund at around
the same stage of the story, making the similarities more apparent.
Selfishness and greed are another major and obvious theme in both King Lear and Ran. Greed is the key motivation behind the actions of Regan and Goneril in King Lear and Jiro and Taro in Ran. Regan and Goneril turn against their father and then on each other in order to get power and wealth. Jiro and Taro also turn against their father to gain total control of their father’s dynasty.
Each of the main characters faces the consequences of their actions. None of them manage to escape judgment, as though some higher power is at work. None of the evil characters are left alive at the end of either King Lear or Ran. Also, Lear and Hidetora pay the highest price for their actions when their only good child is killed as a result of events set in motion by their foolish decisions. Moments later they also die. Both stories start with Lear and Hidetora making their mistakes and both stories end once they have suffered the full consequences for them.
With these factors being prominent in King Lear as well as in Ran, it becomes apparent that these are the most important aspects of King Lear. With some of the other lesser aspects and events being either changed in or completely left out of Ran, the key elements stand out even more.
Also the extra length in the scenes of Kurosawa’s Ran nables one to understand what is happening more easily than the scenes in King Lear and gives greater detail to what is happening. In the opening scene of King Lear, the events are quite brief and take place rather quickly. The scene is a relatively short one. The opening scene in Ran, however, is much longer and begins earlier giving greater insight to the situation before on has to start processing events.
The way Ran dealt with the same issues as King Lear in a different setting made the main themes and ideas stand out more. The longer scenes and greater amount of dialogue in Ran made each scene easier to comprehend. Both of these factors in Ran make King Lear easier to understand.