The Throne of Blood (1957)

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“Akira Kurosawa's remarkable 1957 restaging of Macbeth in samurai and expressionist terms is unquestionably one of his finest works”

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Kurosawa has been both admired and denigrated for the influence Western culture has had on his films. Apart from his debt to the American Western, he has shown a great fondness, and understanding, for the work of giants of Western literature, including Dostoyevsky and Shakespeare. He has made three films inspired by plays written by the latter: The Bad Sleep Well is a very loose adaptation of Hamlet, while Ran is a Japanese King Lear.

The Throne of Blood takes Macbeth and transforms the tragedy into a grimly beautiful exploration of ambition and self-delusion. While sticking closely to the original, apart from a few minor details (one witch instead of three), Kurosawa made the film in the style of Noh theatre, resulting in a drama that blends realism with extreme stylisation. Toshiro Mifune gives his usual commanding performance as the Macbeth character, but even more impressive is the Lady Macbeth character, memorably portrayed by Isuzu Yamada, who is one of the very few villainesses in Kurosawa films and, as she glides through the sleeping castle at night, one of cinema’s most impressive manipulators.

Supported by The Japan Foundation