Akira Kurosawa’s final epic, 1985’s Oscar-winning Ran, makes its way to 4K Ultra HD. So, should it be cherished, or banished?
The story: After gestating for many years, Kurosawa’s collision of Japanese history and Shakespeare’s King Lear brought the tale of a retiring Japanese warlord and his three sons to incredible life. A story of family squabbling unfolds…
“In a mad world only the mad are sane.”
The 4K disc: Presented in native 4K, this edition of Ran was extensively restored from the original camera negative then remastered a few years back, and the final result was approved by the late Kurosawa’s director of photography, Shôji Ueda. The results are quite stunning considering the film’s vintage, with the application of Dolby Vision adding extra life to an often quite dark film. Detail varies – at times it is superb, at others, usually involving various effects or titles, it can be a little less so. Grain is consistent throughout. Without doubt, Ran has never looked this good at home.
As you would expect, the original Japanese soundtrack is here, coming to us in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, complete with available English subtitles. For those who would prefer to just hear English, there’s also a dubbed 5.1 track. Things generally sit fairly front and centre, although the surrounds are employed subtly for atmosphere, and occasionally a little more such as during the sparing – but effective – outbreaks of score. Dialogue is clear, and bass doesn’t disappoint.
The 4K disc itself features a nine minute restoration featurette in HD. Meanwhile, the bonus standard Blu-ray is an absolute treasure trove of archival goodies, including ~70-minute 1985 documentary AK, four other featurettes of various lengths, three interviews (including one with Ueda) and a fascinating 50-minute look at samurai culture, simply entitled The Samurai.
Release date: August 25, 2021
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu
Want help deciding what to add to your 4K collection next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.