Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: Ran at the Royal

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:

The entire TMT series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

18 Responses to “TMT: Ran at the Royal”

  1. Novroz

    I came here straight away after seeing your twit saying Shakespear in Kanji 😉

    How lucky you are to have such special cinema…I wish such cinema exist here too. I’d love to gave cinema special for Japanese and European movies 🙂


  2. fernandorafael

    Great post, Michael. Big fan of TMT here. Totally identified with your first paragraph. If it’s the right movie, I’ll go to any theater, near or far, to see it.


    • le0pard13

      Yes, this won’t be to everyone’s liking. But, Kurosawa could come up with some truly stunning visuals and storylines. Thank you so much, Ruth.


  3. Eric

    I haven’t had the chance to see this yet, but it looks like an awesome one to see on the big screen. Cool TMT, Michael!


    • le0pard13

      This one, along with ‘Seven Samurai’ and ‘Rashomon’, are in my opinion the must-sees for anyone evaluating Akira Kurosawa’s work. Thanks so much, Eric.


  4. Marcus Clearspring

    I remember seeing Ran at the cinema, but don’t remember which one. Normally I do. It’s a great movie which left a lasting impression. While at Uni I had to read King Lear. Kurosawa captures the feeling of the aging king and the relationship to his daughters perfectly.

    Your TMT series is a great idea. I’ve only ever written one post like this which was for an outdoor showing of a Godard the rain. Speaking of which, there was another where they showed Seven Samurai on the river bank in summer for free. That was a great atmosphere.

    p.s. the one photo reminds me I wanted to review “Coco Before Chanel”.


    • le0pard13

      Wonderful thoughts and memories, Marcus. Could you post your link to that outdoor Godard movie showing? I’d love to read it. And that sounds like a marvelous venue for ‘Seven Samurai’. Thanks, my friend.



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