There are many things that can be said about Kurosawa’s film, Ran, a manficient work of art, a loose reworking of King Lear, but I won’t say them. I don’t feel up to tackling such a big subject, a monumental film, just now. Instead, I will show my favorite sequence from the long movie, the portion in which Lady Kaede reveals herself as one incredible piece of work, a femme fatale like none other I know.
The three sons of the Great Lord are fighting over his domain now that he has abdicated and is senile. Jiro is ambitious, but a bit soft and hesitant – his loyal retainer, a gruff, no nonsense intriguer gives him a few pushes in the right direction. (He gets the film’s last words too.)
During a capture of a castle that Jiro carries out with his brother, Taro, the retainer kills Taro, a threat to his master’s future dominance, with a gunshot. “A stray shot. The vagaries of war...” Deniability, that is. Lady K., the dead man’s husband is not deceived. When her brother-in-law takes possession of her dead husband’s castle, she humiliates Jiro by publicly insulting him. Later, when he is alone, she comes to apologize, offering the dead man’s helmet as a peace offering.
Lady Kaede’s machinations, and everyone else’s intrigue combine to bring about the complete destruction of the house of the Great Lord, and his three sons. Jiro’s retainer, at the end, sees that he’s been outwitted. Her severed neck creates a tremendous gushing fountain of blood. The enemy is storming the castle keep. He has the last word – “My lord, Jiro. We are undone. Prepare to die. I will follow shortly!”
[Link to Lady K. getting hacked, but the aspect ratio is off.]