Classics Review: Throne of Blood

After Akira Kurosawa finished his groundbreaking films “Rashomon” & “Seven Samauri,” he reunites with his pals Toshiro Mifune & Takashi Shimura in a film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” set in 16th Century Feudal Japan titled, “Throne of Blood.” Officially released in 1957, (same year Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory came out) the film received praise from critics and movie goers alike. The Criterion Collection restored the Throne of Blood on Laserdisc as spine number 106. Later re-released on DVD/Blu-Ray as spine number 190. This isn’t the last time Akira made another Shakespeare adaptation. “Ran” is actually based on “King Lear.” The sole reason why I wanted to review this film, is because “Ghost of Tsushima” (a video game inspired by Kurosawa’s works) is getting a sequel.

I don’t care if SPOILERS are added. We’re already familiar with Shakespeare plays adapted countless times. Keep in mind, this is a very short review. So, bear with me.

Mystifying & Cursed Elements

Mystifying: Akira Kurosawa did an excellent job writing, producing, editing and directing his iteration of Macbeth.

Akira’s frequent collaborators Toshiro Mifune &Takashi Shimura both did a fantastic job for their respective performances.

Fun Fact: Michael Fassbender mentioned Throne of Blood is his favorite version of Macbeth. He also starred in the 2015 version.

Cinematography is shot in black-and-white capturing in-depth imagery.

Wipe Transitions are used to go from one scene to another. George Lucas also used this technique in “Star Wars.”

Practial Effects were heavily involved building Set Pieces and fog. The Climatic arrow scene near the end, actually used real arrows. The Arrows that hit Toshiro are fake.

Costume Designs and Set Pieces reflect 16th Century Feudal Japan.

Primary Themes are Paranoia, Betrayal, Loyalty, Destiny & Ambition. Each one’s handled carefully.

Rather than retelling Macbeth all over again, Akira strategically took creative liberties on the source material. For instance, only one witch appears not an entire trio saying the phrase, “Something wicked this way comes.” The Main Character’s death via numerous arrows.

Cursed: I couldn’t find nothing wrong. I’m giving Akira and his crew an Extra Point for making a flawless film as possible.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

Throne of Blood is one of Akira Kurosawa’s best films and also my favorite film of 1957. If you’re obsessed with The Criterion Collection or waiting for Ghost of Tushima’s sequel, buy it on DVD/Blu-Ray. Which Kurosawa film should I review next? Please leave a comment.

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