Akira Kurosawa's film ‘Ran’ as an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ has several similarities that start with themes, action as well as characters. In King Lear, the women are seen as being hard-pressed from the centre of politics, while in Ran they are caught in between domestic margins. This paper addresses the power and motivations among women. It is therefore not a direct adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.
King Lear does not explain the history of the characters so that the reader can be in a better position to understand their motives, but Ran has their historical background. Kurosawa captures attention of the readers by basing his film on a Japanese historical setting. Regan, Cordelia and Goneril in Shakespeare’s story, leave the reader wondering about their motiveless actions. The play does not explain their childhood lives, their father King Lear, or their mother. Even though, their motive to power, whether personal, or political can enable the reader have a feeling of supposition. Regarding their earlier actions in the play, it can be depicted that Goneril and Reagan had restricted direct power. The two remedy into deliberate hypocrisy on the splitting up of the Kingdom which people with power cannot resolve into. Cordelia is viewed to maintaining personal influence on power over Lear, the king. She is displayed with so much assurance in the separation of the Kingdom. The three daughters are rebellious to their father, and hence the questions as to what it entails being a princess. Such questions can only be answered if the ladies’ historical context is told.
Kurosawa writes his work from Shakespeare’s play, and brings in the historical background. Lady Kaede has a told history of her, and the society that she reigns from. She develops the theme of a woman’s position in the power structure of a society. Kaede is not as typical as Goneril and Reagan, but rather evil since we can explain her motivation. Just like King Lear’s elder daughters, she too depends upon hypocrisy for her long due safety. Her subversive identity is effectively concealed for some time within her studied movements reminiscent of Noh drama and her quiet and measured speech (Kurosawa, 2003). However, Kaede successfully destructs the male power domination in one family.
In Shakespeare’s play the daughters’ actions cause unintended chaos to the society, while in Kurosawa’s film the resulting chaos is Kaede’s intended objective which is achieved. Power in a community is build upon ruthlessness. Kaede has no compassion for those that come on her way. Hidetora’s authority is also characterized with ruthlessness. Kaede’s power is exercised on a domestic scenario. “The static and codified world of Ran's interior spaces provides the site of the rebellion of Lady Kaede as well as the site of her subordination” (Kurosawa, 2003).
She abandons traditional roles, and restructures her domestic space hence her own identity, while her sister Sue fails to achieve the same. She initiates an attack on Ichimonji clan from the domestic space within her family castle. She explains, “"I won't be a widow with my hair cropped, or a nun with my head shaved! This castle was my father's. I won't leave it” (Kurosawa, 2013).
King Lear’s daughters are chaotic, but Hidetora’s daughters are made up of the father’s chaos. In “Ran’ the author has focused on the historical actions which are not reflected in Shakespeare’s play. The cause as well as the impact of the chaos from women’s power and motivation is considered as a legacy that is historical.
Kurosawa, A. (2005). Ran. Irvington, N.Y.: Criterion Collection.
Shakespeare, W. (2003). King Lear. Auburn, CA: Audio Partners.