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Ran: Chaos on the Western Frontier

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Abstract:

This article looks at the relationship between Akira Kurosawa's Ran, Shakespeare's King Lear and genre cinema. Instead of seeking to prove Ran's debt to Shakespeare, debate centres on Kurosawa's inventive intertextualization, part of which involves his manipulation of the generic codes of Eastern and Western cinema. The article argues that although widely regarded as part of the canon of Shakespeare on screen and appropriated by a Shakespearean heritage of global proportions Kurosawa's Ran refuses to be consumed by Western academia. The film offers a social critique of patriarchal systems across a range of genres, from Japanese jidai-geki epic to Renaissance tragedy, to Hollywood western, linking the concerns embedded in Shakespeare's King Lear with those of other historical eras, other nations, other mythologies.

Keywords: King Lear; Ran; genre cinema; intertext; screen adaptation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/jafp.1.2.103_1

Affiliations: De Montfort University.

Publication date: 2008-06-03

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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