Lady Kade and the Noh Performance in Kurosawa's Ran

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Kurosawa’s Ran is a ‘glocal’ film which retells the Western King Lear story in an Eastern way; it localized the story by adding personal history to the characters and applying Japanese Noh elements to the way of acting. Ran has a similar plot design to King Lear but is not a straight adaptation of it. The parallel plot based on coincidence and theme in Shakespeare becomes a revenge plot related as cause and effect in Kurosawa. Kurosawa transfers the historical setting of the film from pre-Roman Britain to Medieval Japan. He enriches the Shakespeare play by adding a reason to King Lear’s suffering and Taro, Jiro and Lady Kaede’s evil; he also splits and combines some Shakespearean characters to create new ones; the Shakespearean language was also replaced by rewritten dialogues. In addition, the Noh influenced way of acting, which is featured by silence, emptiness and stillness has been crucial to the carving of characters. This essay will take Lady Kaede, the evil character as example, to analyze the change of plot and the influence of Noh in creating characters and acting styles.

Lady Kaede absorbs the evil of Goneril, Regan, and Edmund. Her position of the evil character which dominants the development of the tragedy in Ran resembles Edmund most; therefore I will analyze the convergence and divergence of Lady Kaede from Edmund. Lady Kaede is a female character who lacks access to political power and social status. She is implicitly compared by Kurogane to an evil fox-spirit, as her character is stereotyped with the only purpose of trying to destroy the Ichimonji clan to revenge for her family being massacred by Hidetora. While Edmund is a male character whose access to political position is blocked by his half-brother, Edgar. His motivation of revenge comes from his status of the illegitimate child and being treated unequally with Edgar, he wants not only to destroy but also gain the status of the King for him own. Edmund is sought after by both Goneril and...
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