• The compositional visual beauty of the long shots and mise-en-scene detail are masterpiece worthy—Kurosawa makes great use of every extra, color flourish in the frame, and set piece (whether it’s the mountains in the final climax battle, the valley in the opening, or the castle on fire (picture above) in the film’s best scene/segment
  • Second to the pictorial composition I have to praise the formal elements Kurosawa goes back to again and again with the shot of the clouds and meditating on dreams and fate
  • Based on Shakespeare’s King Lear but set in Feudal Japan
  • Gorgeous bright primary colors—a reminder of the work when Kurosawa first went to color along with some of the early color experimentations like Godard with contempt, Antonioni with Red Desert and Fellini with Juliet of the Spirits
  • There are really only two types of shots here in the film—there is the long shot (battle sequences mainly and establishing/landscape shots) and the medium shots where most of the dialogue is delivered. The long shots are stunning and I frankly wish it was more of running time— Kurosawa stages the battles so beautifully—and he uses the frame almost like a Tati film—the dialogue-laden (though always sharp, engaging and a fantastic narrative) does get a little visually monotonous
  • Costume design best Oscar win
  • The continual self-interest in every character as an ongoing theme is nothing new to Kurosawa- he’s been doing it brilliantly since rashoman
  • The entire cast is superb but Tatsuya Nakadai as Lord Hidetora Ichimonji is amongst the best performance of 1985 as is Mieko Harada as Lady Kaede as the machiavellian wife of Lord Hidetora’s eldest son
  • The battles sequences with no audio except the non-diegetic music score is sublime—color guards. It’s almost ballet like
  • I may be reaching here but I think the long shot battle sequences with the extras is also a bit of a statement on the sheep-like or ant-like order-taking sacrifice for essentially nothing. It’s not as apparent a criticism as say Chaplin with the sheep in the factor cutaway in modern times but still
  • The film has gravitas like the godfather
  • The shot of Nakadai’s character leaving the burning castle, down the stairs with the red and yellow color guards on both sides is a jaw-dropper
  • “it’s a mad world. Only the mad are sane”—dog-eat-dog nihilism as per always with Kurosawa. Meditation on the downfall of pride as well
  • End is a fitting long shot
  • Masterpiece/ Must-See border