Throne of Blood-attachment0

Throne of Blood

Movie Information

In Brief: Akira Kurosawa's brilliant but hardly subtle film version of Shakespeare's Macbeth is one of the director's strongest films — and an essential for anyone interested in Japanese cinema.
Genre: Shakespearean Tragedy in Japanese Terms
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Akira Kubo, Hiroshi Tachikawa
Rated: NR

When this ran a couple years ago, I wrote, “Akira Kurosawa’s first brush with William Shakespeare, an adaptation of Macbeth aptly named Throne of Blood (1957), is one of the filmmaker’s finest films — and one of the few instances of plot-driven Shakespeare that actually works. Perhaps it’s because Macbeth has a stronger plot than many of Shakespeare’s plays, or perhaps it’s because Kurosawa opted to reject the poetry and simply go with the story and the atmosphere. It is certainly not lacking in atmosphere — and, in fact, has a feel that is comparable to Orson Welles’ 1948 Macbeth, although achieved quite differently.” Full review:

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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3 thoughts on “Throne of Blood

  1. TonyRo

    My friend and I are big fans of Japanese cinema, particuarly Kurosawa. We tried watching this one on Sunday and couldn’t make it through it. I think the pacing of it is way too slow.

  2. Sean R. Moorhead

    We tried watching this one on Sunday and couldn’t make it through it. I think the pacing of it is way too slow.

    I love the movie, but I can understand this reaction. It strikes me as one of Kurosawa’s most willfully alienating films. (Ran is another, so maybe that’s simply how he preferred to approach Shakespeare? On the other hand, The Bad Sleep Well is relatively more conventional.) However, the oppressive weirdness of the film strikes me as appropriate and incredibly powerful.

    I think Macbeth is fundamentally cyclical and, despite its psychological complexity, kind of emotionally remote. It doesn’t have character arcs as such; the protagonists are just gradually shorn of their humanity. I like Macbeth as he’s depicted in Throne of Blood and in Polanski’s Tragedy of Macbeth: as someone whose eloquence is merely a kind of self-hypnosis to justify his sociopathy.

  3. Ken Hanke

    The interesting thing to me is I understand the movie being off-putting, but I’ve never found it especially slow.

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