From the canvas to the cinema.
David Liu | 12 June 2014
King Lear and the Fool in the Storm (William Dyce, 1851; oil on canvas)
Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
After reading about the parable of Japanese Sengoku-era warlord Mori Motonari and his three sons, Kurosawa recognized the potential parallels with King Lear — having previously directed loose adaptations of Shakespeare’s works in Throne of Blood and The Bad Sleep Well — and began development on Ran, painstakingly storyboarding every frame of the film as oil paintings in the late 1970s.
Kurosawa’s wife of 39 years, Yōko Yaguchi, died during the film’s production in February 1985. The director stopped filming for one day to mourn her passing before resuming. After the picture’s release, the 75-year-old Kurosawa referred to Ran as his “best film,” a startling change in sentiment from a filmmaker whose previous response to the question had always been: “My next one.”