Behind the scenes on Akira Kurosawa’s Ran. I didn’t believe the hype that this would be one of Marker’s best films, but the hype was right! Gorgeous movie, more following general daily activity on-set than Kurosawa himself, to the great annoyance of the IMDB reviewers. Besides CM, praise to cameraman Frans-Yves Marescot (no other credits) and the great Tôru Takemitsu whose music is used extensively.

Tôru Takemitsu visits the set looking for musical inspiration:
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“In this kind of shooting the first pitfall to avoid is appropriating a beauty that does not belong to us, to play up the lovely backlit shot. Of course some of that borrowed beauty will come through anyway. But we shall try to show what we see the way we see it, from our eye-level.”
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On the TV is The Horse, the last movie Kurosawa assistant-directed before beginning to make his own films
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Movie was shot around Mt. Fuji, but apparently the mountain isn’t seen in Ran.
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“When cement has been added to the black earth of Mt. Fuji so that the horses’ hooves can kick up clouds of dust, the assistant director and the script girl pitch in as enthusiastically as the grips. It’s as though each person, however great his or her professional qualifications regarded the film as a whole, as a collective endeavor in which there is no such thing as a noble or a menial task. We saw, for example, Kurosawa’s closest aide helping with makeup, the head electrician cutting the grass side by side with the art director, the clapman rehearsing stunts. Most unusual.”

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Sound recordist Fumio Yanoguchi, who died during the editing of A.K., had worked with Kurosawa since the late 40’s:
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Ishiro Honda himself – director of Mothra, Rodan and the original Godzilla:
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Fallen warrior, or an extra taking a nap?
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“The sensei is he who, by achieving technical perfection, has got a sort of spiritual bonus out of it. The aura of respect that surrounds and protects Kurosawa is nothing like the reign of terror that some lesser directors impose on the set. And just like the great sword masters of the past, sensei has no time for abstraction. When he speaks of his work he reflects on factual experiences. When asked why he did this or that he says “I simply make a film as I want it to be”.

Sensei:
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So you’ve created Godzilla AND Rodan, directed The Mysterians and made almost thirty other movies. Now what?? Well, Mothra, obviously.

When a ship is in trouble (it’s always a ship in trouble with these japanese monster movies) some guys wash up on an island long thought to be empty and used by Japan for nuclear testing. They meet some natives and tiny girls who give them something to drink that makes ’em impervious to the radiation. Neat. Back home in Tokyo, scientists want to know more and set up a team to check out the island.

Amer… I mean Rolisican jerky businessman Nelson leads the expedition and intrepid reporter Fukuda sneaks along without permission. They find the “tiny beauties” (just like in the 90’s Rebirth of Mothra) and Nelson kidnaps them to make money showing off their tinyness and their beauty and their singing to sold-out theater in his home of New Yor… I mean, New Kirk City.

But their song awakens Mothra, who is drawn towards the song like a moth to… well you know. Fukuda and photographer friend Michi and some damned kid team up to return the tiny beauties to Mothra… but not before many, many models are destroyed, usually by being blown down model streets by Mothra’s giant flapping wings.

This director would later make about fifteen more monster movies and end on a high note, co-directing two of Akira Kurosawa’s final three movies.