Akira Kurosawa, with his production of RAN (1985), managed to
hold true to the themes of greed, deceit and -- for that matter --
loyalty in Shakespeare's KING LEAR. The strength of the
characters and the basic storyline remained intact. While reading
KING LEAR, I had not formed the impression that Lear was a treacherous
sort, as was his Japanese counterpart (sorry, folks, but most of the
Japanese characters' names have escaped me), who gouged out the eyes of
Sue's younger brother, after having destroyed their family. Obviously,
not a friendly fellow, he.
The scene where the Great Lord (hey, at least I remembered that
title) confronted the blind youth after so many years brought to my mind
Edmund's speech about fate:
We make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars:
as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion;
knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance. . . .
My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail; and my
nativity was under Ursa major; so that it follows, I am rough and
lecherous. Tut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest
star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.
Granted, evil is evil, and, of all the characters in KING LEAR,
Edmund appeared to be the only one who truly acknowledged his
treacherous intentions. He realized that he would be evil no matter
what sign he had been born under, thereby making it appear that he
does, to some extent, believe in destiny. If such is the case, and
destiny, in one form or another, figures into the scheme of Shakespeare's
play, then the adage "what goes around comes around" bears some weight
here. For the Great Lord was one who ruled the land with a mighty
(samurai) sword, and, in the process, he was outdone by the same means.
In fact, of all people to assist him, the very youth he blinded...
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