This essay focuses on the film Ran and its connections with the Jidaigeki genre of Japanese film. Ran is most commonly known in the West as an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, but this does not do the highly noteworthy film justice. In addition to its Shakespearean influences, Ran also possesses a unique connection to the Jidaigeki genre.
While Jidaigeki technically only refers to films set during a specific period of Japanese history, there are also numerous standards and expectations for the genre. Ran both subverts and follows established genre conventions with equal alacrity, setting itself apart without ignoring existing precedent.
The essay begins with a brief history of Japanese film, leading into the development of Jidaigeki. The exact nature of the Jidaigeki genre is then detailed. This covers both the technical definition, as well as the established standards of the genre.
With this baseline established, the essay continues by examining Ran in the light of Jidaigeki. While the film subverts most superficial expectations, it maintains the setting and tone expected of a Jidaigeki film, anchoring its place as a shining example of the genre.
The essay analyzes both the narrative structure of the film, as well as the actions of individual characters, and what these actions ultimately mean for them. Despite the great divergences of Ran from Jidaigeki standards, the essay ultimately defends the film’s place in Japanese film history as a shining example of its genre, rather than a masterful but divergent work classified only on a technicality.
Connor Haines, ’15
Ann Arbor, MI
Major: English and Creative Writing
Sponsor: Kirilka Stavreva