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Kurosawa’s “RAN” restored to 4K digital after 30 years—Actor Tatsuya Nakadai: “He had a wonder that crosses through space and time”


©2015 TIFF

To mark 30 years since its original release, the 4K digital restoration of Akira Kurosawa’s RAN was presented on October 25 as part of the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival’s Japan Classics section. Actors Tatsuya Nakadai and Mieko Harada were in attendance for a symposium after the screening.
Based on Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, RAN tells the story of a family quarrel between the three sons of a powerful warlord, Mōri clan. It is an epic civil war tale that was produced at a cost of 2.7 billion yen. Nakadai recalled his feelings when he attended the film’s first festival opening. “At the time I was 49 years old. I really thought that Kurosawa the genius had a wonder that crosses through space and time.”
The film was initially planned to be produced through French funding, but a series of setbacks and other problems caused the filming to be delayed by more than half a year. During the shooting of Kurosawa’s previous film, Kagemusha, Nakadai had fallen from a horse and had to take 10 days off to recover from his injuries. “During that half-year delay, I practiced riding every day until I was able to do archery on horseback. But only about three seconds of it got put in the film.” he joked.
He also told of one infuriating incident when, right after he had just completed four hours in the makeup chair, Kurosawa suddenly cancelled the day’s shoot because he had a hangover. Nakadai then recalled the filming of a climactic scene where he was to descend the staircase of a burning castle. “We spent one week just rehearsing. The master (Kurosawa) told me, ‘Don’t trip! If you make a mistake it’ll cost me four hundred million yen.’ On the big day I kept chanting to myself, ‘Four hundred million yen, four hundred million yen’. Over the course of the filming, I got yelled at a lot and there were many hard times, but I think we did a good job,” he reflected back with satisfaction.
It was actress Harada’s first time working with Kurosawa, taking on the role of the heroine Lady Kaede. She recalled, “I was still a youthful 25, and Kurosawa had such a large presence that, if he merely glanced at me, it would make me tremble. It was a desperate situation for me. He never got angry at me directly, but I became slightly paranoid and had dreams every night that he was angry at me.” But she remembers the late master fondly, and said that after all the shooting was finished, “Kurosawa told me, ‘Don’t have any more dreams of me, okay?’”
Also in attendance at the event was Emi Wada, who earned an Academy Award for costume design for her work on RAN, Kurosawa’s long-time assistant Teruyo Nogami, and assistant director Vittorio Dalle Ore.

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
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