Throne of Blood (1957)

Dec 8, 1999
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:direction, cinematography, story, script, cast

Cons:some will find it slow, subtitled

"The Seven Samurai" is generally considered to be Kurosawa's best work. But my favorite film from the Japanese director is his inspiration from Shakespeare's "Macbeth", "Throne of Blood". Adapted to feudal Japan, it is the story of the rise and fall of a samurai due to murderous ambition.

Washizu (Toshiro Mifune) and Miki (Minoru Chiaki) help the warlord Tsuzuki (Takamaru Sasaki) put down a rebellion. They are granted an audience with the warlord, but while travelling to the warlord's Cobweb castle, they encounter an evil spirit (Chieko Naniwa) in the forest. The spirit tells their future: Washizu will soon become the ruler of Cobweb castle, with Miki's son succeeding him.

The spirit's predictions are destined to become true. Washizu is prodded by his scheming wife Asaji (Isuzu Yamada) to kill Tsuzuki and take his place. Washizu's success begins to unravel, however, due to suspicions and betrayals. He just doesn't know when to stop.

Mifune was perfectly cast as Washizu. In "Rashomon" and "Seven Samurai", his character was half lunatic. Here, the wild eyes and aggressiveness remain, but his character is more rational, and from a higher social class. However, the most interesting character is Asaji. Her face is an expressionless white mask, which combined with her murderous, manipulating comments creates a chilling effect. "Throne of Blood" has been criticized for its slow parts, such as the Tsuzuki funeral procession, but even that sequence has suspense since the actions of Miki are unknown.

Kurosawa was co-producer, editor and co-writer, as well as director. He would again borrow from Shakespeare for 1985's Ran, which was based on "King Lear". Like "Throne of Blood", "Ran" also took place in feudal Japan and blamed a wife for the destruction of an empire. (91/100)

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