Throne of Blood


dir. Akira Kurosawa

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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A sixteenth-century warlord (Toshiro Mifune) is spurred on in his murderous ambition by his fearsome wife (Machiko Kyo) in Akira Kurosawa's acclaimed adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Kurosawa's celebrated transposition of Macbeth to sixteenth-century Japan stars Toshiro Mifune as the power-hungry warlord whose fatal combination of ambition and moral weakness drives him to ignore the prophesies of a witch, and to be goaded into acts of escalating evil by his wife, fearsomely embodied by Isuzu Yamada. Influenced by Noh theatre, Throne of Blood strips the Shakespeare play to its essentials, intensifying its tragedy and terror. With her fierce mask of ambition turned to tormented contrition, Yamada offers one of the most ferocious renderings of the hand-washing scenes in any version of Macbeth. From the mist-enshrouded forest and looming "spider castle" of the eerie opening sequence, through the pre-Hitchcock invasion of the throne room by a flock of birds to the (unfaked) hail of arrows slicing the air into a million slivers in the astonishing final sequence, Throne has a fierce, stylized beauty. "Among the supreme creations of cinema . . . Quite the most brilliant and original attempt ever made to put Shakespeare on screen" (Time Magazine).