This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. As I’ve stated before, “… what really kicks off an entry… most of the time is other bloggers.” In this case, Monica’s guest post over at Tyson Carter’s site, Head in a Vice, had the honors. Her look (published in the U.S. on Veteran’s Day) at one stellar epic by a master of cinema kicked off this memory download.
“This is truly one of the most epic Japanese films of the Feudal era. The fabric of story that Kurosawa has weaved creates an awe dropping experience that completely engulfs the viewer in a web of deep-rooted plot. It doesn’t overwhelm you to the point where you are sitting there wondering who is who and what just transpired. It’s laid out in a way that one can fully understand the characters and where their loyalties lie.”
The Royal Theatre:
[pictures are care of the Cinema Treasures site]
Autumn 1985: given the right film, I used to head to whatever movie hall that played it. Whether I knew much about the location or venue. Near or far. In the past, the grander, more esteemed and unique the theater, the better. Nowadays, with the closing of so many movie palaces of my youth, I’ve fallen back on convenience. Anything local, with stadium seating, and cheap or validated parking offered usually gathers my money these days.
Make it a matinée while you’re at it. Seen the price of movie tickets lately?!?
Considering my long-standing appreciation of Japanese cinema, I regularly went to the few theaters that specialized in them. Back in the 80s, it was the only recourse. There were no disc or streaming options available — and VHS tape offerings were measly. Yeah, yeah. The dark ages. Still, the film maestros of Japan’s feudal era, a genre known as Jidaigeki, like Kihachi Okamoto, Masaki Kobayashi, and especially Akira Kurosawa, held my interest so much I’d go to the only places that screened them.
So when the 1985 Japanese-French epic film, Ran, appeared on this shore that Fall, written by Kurosawa himself (incorporating a mix of Japanese legend and Shakespeare’s tragic King Lear), there was no way I’d miss it. The West Los Angeles art house, the Royal Theatre, was where I made my way to. Alone at a weekend matinée, at that — she-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken wasn’t about to be dragged to this (patience and perseverance she did not possess). Her loss, I’d say, to have missed this: