Throne of Blood (1957)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Tragedy, Period Film, Samurai Film  |   Release Date - Jan 15, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jonathan Crow

One of the most successful Shakespeare adaptations for the screen, Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood strips away Macbeth's minor characters and long soliloquies, turns the witch scenes into a strange supernatural encounter, and transforms the Scottish landscape into a misty visage of feudal Japan. Kurosawa masterfully employs style and composition to create a closed world in which the film's tragic outcome seems pre-ordained. Such visual motifs as fog, wind, and rain, juxtaposed with the austere interior of Washizu's castle, create an eerie, foreboding feel, while Kurosawa's use of stark blacks and whites, coupled with his persistent use of hard edits, seem to place the characters in stylistic confinement. Not unlike Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura (1960), Kurosawa uses repetition, such as the image of Washizu's emerging from the fog, to suggest the futility of the characters' actions. Rarely has a Kurosawa film been rendered with such bleakness. Throne of Blood is a visually brilliant, emotionally powerful masterpiece from one of the true masters of cinema.