Akira Kurosawa's wife of 39 years, Yôko Yaguchi, died during the production of this film. Kurosawa halted filming for just one day to mourn before resuming work on the picture.
Several hundred costumes were all created by hand, a process taking two years to complete.
Akira Kurosawa referred to his previous film, Kagemusha (1980), as a "dress rehearsal" for this film. He spent ten years storyboarding every shot in the film as paintings. The resulting collection of images was published with the screenplay.
The film used approximately 1400 extras and 200 horses. 1400 suits of armor (designed by Akira Kurosawa himself) were fabricated and a number of the horses had to be imported from the United States. Kurosawa used the extras and horses so efficiently that when the film was ready for premiere, newspapers in Japan were reporting that thousands of extras and horses were used to stage the battles.
Akira Kurosawa began writing the film 10 years before its release and said that it wasn't originally meant to be based on Shakespeare's "King Lear" but came to that during the writing process.
Akira Kurosawa's eyesight had deteriorated almost completely by the time principal photography began. He could only frame shots with the help of assistants, who used his storyboard paintings as guidelines.
Almost the entire film is done in long-shot and there are only a handful of close-ups, such as when The Lady Kaede is presented with the head of a fox statue.
The castle destroyed in the middle of the movie was specially constructed on the slopes of Mount Fuji for the film and then burned down. No miniatures were used for that segment, although an optical of another castle being burned at the end was used.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(Akira Kurosawa): [weather]: The sky gradually becomes more and more cloudy as the plot progresses. It finally culminates after the first half, when heavy gusts of wind appear.
The story was inspired by samurai legends, but also draws on William Shakespeare's "King Lear" as well.
Because actor Tatsuya Nakadai was decades younger than Hidetora, he wore full-face makeup that took about four hours to apply.
Unlike most other characters in the film, the character of the fool, Kyoami (Pîtâ), has no basis in historic Japan. The most similar position in relation to a historic Japanese warlord would be a page, but would be quite different in responsibilities. Rather Kyoami is based on the fool or jester of European medieval times and, of course, William Shakespeare's character of the Fool from "King Lear".
A scene which required an entire field to be sprayed gold was filmed but left out of the final film during editing.
This film earned legendary director Akira Kurosawa his only Best Director Oscar nomination.
In the mid 60's, Peter O'Toole had tried to persuade Akira Kurosawa to film " King Lear ". 20 years later, " Ran" would be Kurosawa's next and last Shakespearean adaptation
Criterion was set to release the film on Blu-Ray in Region 1 territories which would have made this the first Akira Kurosawa film released on Blu-Ray in America. But Criterion lost the rights to the film at the last minute and was unable to release it and all of their earlier releases of the film on DVD were out of print. As a result, Criterion's release of Kagemusha (1980) became the first Kurosawa film released in the USA. However, Ran has since been released in America as a part of the Studio Canal Collection, distributed by Lionsgate.
The film was re-released in 2015 for it's 30th anniversary in a 4K restored version at the Cannes Film Festival. Limited screenings took place from early to mid-2016 in major cities.
The only film that year to be Oscar nominated for Best Director, but not Best Picture.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Ranked number 79 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018.