One of Akira Kurosawa’s final masterpieces in a career of masterpieces, this sensually epic and colorfully dream-like samurai/Noh Theater rendition of Shakespeare’s King Lear bleeds right off the screen. In Ran, a once-merciless and bloodthirsty Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai), now old, war-weary and bathing in the spoils of a lifetime of plunder, leaves his kingdom to his three sons, Taro (Akira Terao), Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu) and Saburo (Daisuke Ryu). Trouble arises when youngest Saburo challenges his father’s actions, and he is banished from the kingdom, which is then left completely to his two brothers. As Hidetora attempts to enjoy his retirement in the twilight years, the once high king is dropped into a nightmarish hell when inter-family squabbling erupts in epic proportions, leaving no one unscathed. Kurosawa was seventy-nine years old when Ran was released, and it shows in the sure-handedness of one who has spent a lifetime making groundbreaking films. Yet it also has an inventiveness and energy which most directors couldn’t achieve at any age. It perceptively focuses on the dark sides of power: jealousy, deceit and betrayal, as well as Japanese ideas of obligation and honor, and, finally, hope and redemption. Inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear as well as the Japanese legend of daimyo (lord) Mori Motonari, it’s not for nothing that Kurosawa named this twilight masterpiece Ran (which translates as “Chaos”). Featuring Academy Award-winning costumes by Emi Wada and an evocative score by Toru Takemitsu, Kurosawa’s epic tale of greed and revenge remains one of the most highly regarded films in modern cinema, and is not to be missed on the big screen. (Dir. by Akira Kurosawa, 1985, Japan, in Japanese with English subtitles, 162 mins., Rated R) 35mm