Throne Of Blood (1957) * Top Pick *

Look out, it's kinda slippery!
Look out, it's kinda slippery!

Genre: Period Samurai Drama War Thriller (Japan)

Starring: Toshirô Mifune (Samurai Trilogy • Rashomon), Isuzu Yamada (YojimboThe Lower Depths)

Directed By: Akira Kurosawa (The Bad Sleep WellRan)

Overview: In this retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Taketori Washizu rises up the feudal ranks by means of murder and treason most foul.

Typecasting is not necessarily a bad thing. Knowing that of all roles, Christopher Walken's forté is as 'the villain' doesn't mean he isn't good in different roles, just as we know that Robin Williams will always be most famous for his comedy. In the same way, though Toshirô Mifune is a fine dramatic actor in every film he's in, his best roles are those of rage-filled sword-wielding maniacs, or at the very least, they're the performances that are the most recognized of his career.

Enter the script for Throne of Blood: Mifune as a Japanese Macbeth, the back-stabbing Samurai Lord whose evil drives him to commit most horrid and madness-inspiring deeds. He and Isuzu Yamada who plays his icy, opportunistic wife, are certainly one of the best reasons for seeing Throne of Blood, though with the fog-filled cinematography and haunting atmosphere it is certainly hard to decide what to love more.

The differences from the Shakespearian source material are vast enough to keep this version original while still staying deeply rooted in tribute. The three witches are replaced by a single pale spirit. Cobweb Castle sits in the middle of a labyrinthine web of a haunted forest, making it a character in its own right far more than the keep in the Scottish moors we're accustomed to.

Even before our anti-hero sets foot in the castle, he is surrounded and plied by supernatural forces. Kurosawa certainly plays up the spiritual and ghostly elements to turn this tragic tale into a story about twists of fate done by the dead over the free will of the living.

With a climax that is as unceremonious as putting a rabid dog out of its misery, yet as visually inspiring as the bard's most eternal words, Throne of Blood is known as one of Kurosawa's tours de force for obvious reasons.

Ghostly forests are pretty effin awesome
Ghostly forests are pretty effin awesome

Performance: 10 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 10

Overall Rating: 90% (Sit A Spell)

I watched this the day after seeing Polanski's The Tragedy of Macbeth, and the only beef I have with this one is the length. Less than two hours didn't do Throne of Blood justice, given all the deep gazes into madness that were so well displayed in the longer Polanski version. Knowing the potential that was possible from the original play made me mourn what Kurosawa didn't show.

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One of my 3 favorites (along with High & Low and The Bad Sleep Well)

I just saw The Bad Sleep Well and oh my god is it ever awesome. Review soon!

Best movie - and the arrow scene is one of the best I have seen! But Mifune is perhaps greatest samurai actor their has been even now but Ken Watanabe is close.

Polanski's Macbeth was his first movie after the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate.

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