Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Japan 1985
162 mins. Japanese dialogue with English sub-titles


Kurosawa's masterly reimagining of King Lear set in feudal Japan which tells the story of Hidetora, an aging warlord who, after spending his life consolidating his empire, decides to abdicate and divide his Kingdom amongst his three sons Taro, Jiro and Saburo.

When Saburo voices concerns about the wisdom of his father’s plan, claiming that treachery within the family will be inevitable, Hidetora mistakes these comments for a threat and banishes him. This allows Taro and Jiro to take charge, unopposed, leading to a brutal and bloody struggle for the absolute power of the warlord.

Cited as one of Kurosawa's finest achievements, with a budget of $11 million, it was the most expensive Japanese film ever produced up to that time, and was hailed for its powerful images and use of colour. The distinctive Mahler–inspired film score, written by Toru Takemitsu, plays in isolation with ambient sound muted.

What the Critics say:
"A landmark of world cinema, this is a rousing, staggering epic and a haunting drama of timeless significance."  (Jamie Russell - Film4)