In Ran (1985), after Lady Kaede slept with Lord Jiro, and as she was crying that it is she who should be Lord Jiro's wife, not Lady Sue, there is a scene where Lady Kaede has noticed an insect near her (a moth?), caught it, and seemingly killed it.

Does the insect represent Lady Sue? Or Lord Jiro? Or does this act or the insect have other symbolism? Is it a reference to Shakespeare's King Lear (which is the inspiration for Ran's plot) or to an aspect of Japanese culture?

  • This depicts cinematically a similar image to the one evoked by Gloucester in King Lear IV, i, 37-38: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for sport.”
    – Kevin Troy
    Apr 15, 2021 at 4:34

2 Answers 2


If the moth represents something, it's definitely Lady Sué, but I think the main point is to underline Kaede's deceitfulness and cruelty.

Consider what the situation is - Kaede is at that moment faking tears to help her convince Jiro that she has to become his wife - and a few sentences later she almost explicitly demands that he should not just divorce but kill his current wife.

And while doing this, she still takes a moment to casually crush (that's how the screenplay describes it) a harmless insect for no reason.

So the action both stresses Kaede's villainy and mirrors her concurrent attempt to get Sué murdered.


According to the filmmakers on the commentary, the moth just flew into frame and the actress had the presence of mind to react in character and crush it. I think it is one of those happy accidents that adds so much to the color to the character and metaphorical significance of the scene.

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