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Criterion Discontinues Kurosawa’s Ran on DVD, Blu-ray Release Canceled

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Well, I’m sorry to say that there’s some bad news for the fans of the Criterion Collection: the previously-released two-disc edition of director Akira Kurosawa’s classic Ran is being discontinued due to rights issues. Sadly, this problem also means that the upcoming Blu-ray release of the Japanese-language classic will no longer see the clear Blu skies that we were all hoping for.

One of the last films the iconic director helmed before his retirement in the '90s, the 1985 epic Ran took Shakespeare’s King Lear and adapted it into a feudal Japanese setting. The film starred Tatsuya Nakadai (who also appeared in Kurosawa’s Kagemusha and Yojimbo, the latter of which has been remade more times than one would think humanly possible as A Fistful Of Dollars and Last Man Standing — to name a few) as Lord Hidetora Ichimonji, an elderly lord who decides to retire from the throne and appoint his three sons—two of which betray him.

Such is the human condition.

Ran was originally released by the Criterion Collection (the world’s leader in distributing "important classic and contemporary films") in late 2005, and, like many other Criterion titles issued on DVD, has become a favorite amongst fans and perfectionists alike. In late 2008, Criterion started going Blu, releasing several of their catalogue titles (along with a few new acquisitions) in High Definition. Their Blu-ray version of Ran was slated to have had a May 12 release.

While this isn’t very favorable news for fans, you can bet your bottom dollar that every eBay enthusiast will be spending their bottom dollars buying up as many copies of Ran on DVD as they can to resell (at a higher price) at a later date in time when all of the retail stores have run out of copies.

Such is the capitalistic human condition of e-commerce.  Let's just hope the prices on this moratorium title don't soar as high as the old releases of This Is Spinal Tap and Salo: The 120 Days Of Sodom did.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    No need to go to eBay just yet. Out of print doesn’t mean it’s taken off the shelves, just that they aren’t printing anymore. Glad I have mine.

  • http://insomniacentertainment.com Luigi Bastardo

    I went ahead and ordered one myself–just to have on-hand.

  • Narukami

    Bad news indeed.

    Criterion released the absolute best Laser Discs back when Laser was the format of choice for quality and that same standard has applied to their DVD releases — they cost more but are worth every penny.

    When the world switched to DVD Criterion lost the rights to a lot of titles (their release of Blade Runner is still the best) but retained many of the so called “Art House” films. Now this. One can only imagine what the studio release will be like…OK no doubt, but not stellar and probably will cost just as much.

    Oh well…so it goes.