Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France/Japan, 1985. Greenwich Film Productions, Herald Ace, Nippon Herald Films. Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Masato Ide, based on the play King Lear by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Asakazu Nakai, Takao Saito, Shoji Ueda. Produced by Masato Hara, Serge Silberman. Music by Toru Takemitsu. Production Design by Shinobu Muraki, Yoshiro Muraki. Costume Design by Emi Wada. Film Editing by Akira Kurosawa. Academy Awards 1985. Golden Globe Awards 1985. Independent Spirit Awards 1985. National Board of Review Awards 1987. New York Film Critics Awards 1985.
Akira Kurosawa looks to Shakespeare once again for inspiration in this colour-saturated epic based on King Lear. An aging king (cinema legend Tatsuya Nakadai) offers his kingdom to his three sons in equal portions. Two of them are glad of the plan and take him up quite happily, while the third is pensive about the idea and thinks his father possibly mad. At first rejecting the third son, it isn’t long before the two eldest are warring with each other and the old man needs to take refuge with his youngest. Stunning, gorgeous photography meets up with exceptional acting and direction in one of Kurosawa’s greatest achievements, though the mellow pace and sometimes obscure plotting will make it feel like watching paint dry for some audience members.