November 13th, 2021

Ran And The Runs

According to the NHS website you're only supposed to be on codeine for a few weeks. How long have I been taking co-codamol? Twenty years, at least. 'Nuff said.

One of the things codeine is used to treat is diarrhoea. Guess what one of the symptoms is when you suddenly stop taking it?

I didn't feel too bad yesterday. We'd booked a day off but for reasons not primarily to do with withdrawal symptoms we didn't take it. Instead I shut myself up in the back room and watched Ran.

Turns out that Lear without the poetry is just a silly old man wandering about making a fool of himself. Care homes are full of such. This particular old man also happens to have a back story that makes it very hard to have much sympathy with his condition. Shakespeare doesn't tell us whether Lear has been a good king or a bad king but Kurosawa's Lear is given a history of castle burning, mass murder and eye-gouging- which gives context to the politics of the story but makes it hard to see why he inspires such loyalty in Kent, Cordelia (who is male in this version) and the Fool. I'll have to admit that whenever the old man in his exaggerated old-man make-up took up screen time with his doddering I was wanting to get back to the scheming sons and daughter-in-law and the castle burning and battles.

The fool is played by a drag-artist called "Peter". He's awfully good.

The battles are awfully good too. The good son's arquebusiers with their red-flashing guns take down the bad son's cavalry. Apparently Kurosawa intended this to be a metaphor for the A Bomb. If that's so then Kurosawa's view of the A Bomb was nuanced because it's hardly a bad thing that the battle goes the way it does.

Roger Ebert gives Ran four stars out of a possible five. I think that's right. Kurosawa made a fistful of five star movies but this ain't one of them. Not quite.