In 1975 Akira Kurosawa wanted to make a samurai epic that was based on the story of King Lear, but no one would help him finance it. He had filled notebooks full of storyboard drawings of costumes and locations of scenes of his King Lear adaptation, and with the help of a French producer Serge Siberman who has helped out other great film directors such as Luis Bunuel; Kurosawa finally found the funds to make the film. While Kurosawa's earlier samurai epics were more adventurous, lighthearted, humorous, and exciting, Ran was cold, remote, more violent, and horrifying. They're several parallels to the story of King Lear in Ran, including an old king who is driven mad after unwisely dividing his kingdom into three parts, (among sons, not daughters). There is a body guard and protector and a loyal fool to keep the king company. And they're the kings sons whose greed, betrayal and lust for power, lead to bloodshed, which is all perfectly orchestrated by the evil Lady Kaede, the seductress who incites the war for personal vengeance, purposely plunging all of them into hell.
Kurosawa once stated "Hidetora is me," and there is some evidence in the film that Hidetora serves as a stand-in for Kurosawa. A lot of critics have stated that Ran was a story Kurosawa couldn't have made in his earlier years as a filmmaker, and that the bleak story of the aging Hidetora was a character Kurosawa could be able to relate to more in his later years of life. Throughout his later years Kurosawa became more preoccupied with the themes of death, mortality, and had a more pessimistic outlook on human nature and justice. It was also in his later years that his eyesight was beginning to fail him and he even attempted suicide. Even though he announced Ranwas to be his very last film he made one more titled Dreams; but many consider Ran (in English means 'Chaos') to be his swan song and one of the greatest films in the world, as it is not only looked at as Kurosawa's most personal film, but the film that closely reflects the man himself.