What happens when you combine a legendary Japanese director and a classic story of murder and betrayal? The result is Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, a samurai interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. The concept works seamlessly, transposing feudal Scotland for feudal Japan.
As with all of Kurosawa’s films, Throne of Blood is beautiful to look at. The director’s sense of composition and mise-en-scène help to strengthen the narrative, contrasting quiet, mininalistic moments with loud, expressive violence. Kurosawa’s editing and visual style are also razor-sharp, creating a film that feels fresh and cutting-edge, even almost fifty years later.
Mifune Toshiro is brilliant as Washizu, the Macbeth figure (no wonder Kurosawa chose to cast him time and again in his films). Mifune’s face, expressive and iconic, along with his physical presence portray a loyal soldier consumed by amibition and transformed into an honourless killer. Lady Washizu is equally impressive, cold and manipulative in her pursuit of the Forest Castle.
Throne of Blood is a near-perfect amalgam of Japanese history and Western literature. The themes from Macbeth are universal and integrate flawlessly into a samurai construct. This film feels almost like a Noh version of Macbeth, Japanese form and aesthetic surrounding Western mythos.
Throne of Blood is another strong example of Kurosawa’s skill and artistry of filmmaking.