‘Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” Both, the play “The Tragedy of King Lear” by William Shakespeare and the film “Ran” by Akira Kurosawa delve into the same grounds of values being presented in their works but due to the nature of their context, these values have manifested themselves in different ways that can be seen as ‘acceptable’ for the audience of the respective texts. Well, we can’t disagree that Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of King Lear” is a very complicated play which is too complex for our now simple minds, in that way Kurosawa’s “Ran” allows the modern audience to come to a better conclusion of the events, values and emotions portrayed in ‘The Tragedy of King Lear”. Thus, the reason why form plays a crucial role in preserving the texts and pertaining to their respective audiences. In ‘King Lear’ and ‘Ran’, both touch on political values such as the improper relinquish of power where the ‘overzealous’ proud ruler passes the throne to the offspring, causing two of the children turning against them while the third supports them through their journey in madness and old age, which in turn displays the value of filial duty and the other common universal values like loyalty.
The If we travel back to the past, let’s say around 1604, when “The Tragedy of King Lear” was written, we find that Britain at that time was ruled by King James VI. King James VI, the king of England and Scotland wanted to unify the two countries intone nation. In his speeches he always mentioned the misfortunes brought about by the disunion of England when under King Leir. This became the main historical source of “The Tragedy of King Lear”. Whereas, when you look at Kurosawa, he had previously adapted, Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” into a film “The Throne of Blood” (1957).
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
However, it is known that Kurosawa only realised the similarities between “Ran” and “The Tragedy of King Lear” during his pre-production. The idea of the film was inspired from the story of a warlord, Mori Motonari of the Sengoka era in the 16th century, Japan whose three sons, according to the Japanese are the epitome of filial virtue. Kurosawa once stated in his interview, according to Akira Kurosawa: Interviews “What might their story be like, I wondered, if the sons had not been so good?”The Stars, Heavens and the Gods! Seems quite familiar? Well, in “The Tragedy of King Lear”, Shakespeare constantly used dialogues that recited ritualistic incantations which reminds the audience of the ‘primordial past’, the undefined baseness of human behaviour. Looking back, people during Shakespeare’s time believed in Paganism and had a strong belief that order on earth depended on the order in heavens, further emphasised through Kent’s dialogue in Act 4 Scene 3 “the stars above us govern our condition.
” This way, it acts as a metaphor for both order and the main source for chaos. In particular, Lear and Gloucester appeal to the stars, heavens all the way through as their plead for justice from all the turmoil and chaos. In Act 2, Scene 2, Lear cries “You heavens, give me the patience, you see me here, a poor old man.” Shakespeare has also added notes of Christianity in his play, so it would resonate with his audience who were primarily Christian. S.L Bethell (1944) concludes that Cordelia “from first to last is associated with theological terminology and Christian symbol.” With her sacrificial act of love and her infamous death, all highlight the notion that she was the symbol of Christ and the “Final Judgement”.
Similar to the religious symbolism in Shakespeare’s play, we should also consider the Buddhist symbolism throughout Kurosawa’s “Ran” which in turn pertains to the audience of Japan, and the reason why form plays in an important role in preserving the classic texts. Imagery of The Bodhi Tree, the sun and quarter moon ensign, Lotus flowers etc. have cleverly been woven into scenes in the movie and they represent the Buddhist path of enlightenment. Just like how Shakespeare’s use of incantations to gods, acts as a help to Lear in leading him to his sanity, the Buddhist symbols in “Ran” act as pointers directing Lord Ichimonji Hidetora toward the spiritual path of enlightenment.
Throughout the movie, Hidetora experiences psychological suffering for his sins, then shortly before