Throne of Blood

1957

Throne of Blood

Critics Consensus

A career high point for Akira Kurosawa -- and one of the best film adaptations of a Shakespeare play.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 42

94%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,114
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Movie Info

This moody and violent drama is the Japanese version of Shakespeare's "Macbeth." Even translated into the Japanese language, the timeless story of political intrigue, murder, greed and revenge remains a classic.

Cast

Toshiro Mifune
as Taketoki Washizu
Takashi Shimura
as Noriyasu Odagura
Minoru Chiaki
as Yoshaki Miki
Akira Kubo
as Yoshiteru
Takamaru Sasaki
as Kuniharu Tsuzuki
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Critic Reviews for Throne of Blood

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (1)

  • No doubt about it now: Japan's Akira Kurosawa must be numbered with Sergei Eisenstein and D. W. Griffith among the supreme creators of cinema.

    Mar 4, 2013 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • No stage production could match Kurosawa's Birnam Wood, and, in his final framing of the hero -- a human hedgehog, stuck with arrows -- he conjures a tragedy not laden with grandeur but pierced, like a dream, by the absurd.

    Mar 4, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Throne Of Blood defeats categorisation. It remains a landmark of visual strength, permeated by a particularly Japanese sensibility, and is possibly the finest Shakespearean adaptation ever committed to the screen.

    Mar 4, 2013 | Full Review…

    Derek Malcolm

    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • Akira Kurosawa's remarkable 1957 restaging of Macbeth in samurai and expressionist terms is unquestionably one of his finest works -- charged with energy, imagination, and, in keeping with the subject, sheer horror.

    Jul 1, 2008 | Full Review…
  • It's visually ravishing, as you would expect, employing compositional tableaux from the Noh drama, high contrast photography, and extraordinary images of rain, galloping horses, the birds fleeing from the forest.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Widely regarded as one of the most successful film adaptations of a Bard play.

    Jun 16, 2003

Audience Reviews for Throne of Blood

  • Aug 09, 2018
    A wonderful version of Macbeth, and done without a single line of Shakespeare's dialogue. Kurosawa sets the tone early on with shrouds of mist on a stark landscape, and we know we're in for something special. Soon we see two returning samurai heroes (Toshiro Mifune and Minoru Chiaki) riding through the labyrinth of a forest during a rainstorm, where they meet a ghostly spirit (Chieko Naniwa). In a fantastic sequence, she speaks of man's transience in an other-worldly voice, and while turning her simple spinning wheel, foretells each of the men's futures. Mifune will eventually be lord of the realm, and Chiaki's son (Akira Kubo) will succeed him. They seem like a good fates to have, but the men don't fully appreciate the danger or subtlety in her words, something that will happen again later in the film. I love the scene where Mifune's wife (Isuzu Yamada) first starts planting devious seeds with her cold, calculating comments, her face emotionless, all while looking downward. He knows her suggestions are dishonorable and evil, and yet, as the horse outside in the background cants around in a circle, so do the thoughts within his mind. Mifune and Yamada are excellent and a study in contrasts, perhaps illustrating the different forms greed can take, one dispassionate and the other reckless, but both leading to disaster. The story of Macbeth is well known and so what happens isn't a shock, and yet, it's so well-told and transplanted to feudal Japan, the film is riveting. The period costumes were wonderful, and I loved the headgear the samurai wore. Kurosawa gives us a variety of visuals - the stark interiors, ghostly spirits, and armies charging into battle. Throughout it all, there is a dreamy, nightmarish, epic feeling to the film. Men with passions stirred, riding around in the fog, lost - what a brilliant metaphor to life and human folly. The scene towards the end, the one with archers hurling volley after volley of arrows at Mifune, is outstanding, and even more so when we discover that they were real arrows. It's interesting to think what would have happened if Mifune/Macbeth hadn't met the spirit in the forest, which set the wheels in motion with his wife. Is it inevitable, and tragedy pre-ordained? I think the story is telling us yes, and that in a larger sense, people invariably bring trouble and ruin onto themselves through greed, instead of simply counting their blessings and enjoying their too-short lives. William Shakespeare and Akira Kurosawa make for a potent combination.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2018
    It's a pretty outstanding adaptation/reinterpretation of "Macbeth" with Mifune's unhinged performance anchoring the film. The ending features one of cinema's great death scenes.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2014
    Akira Kuroswa crafts yet again another stunning, bold; epic that is Throne of Blood. Brilliantly acted and directed, the film features an intense atmosphere that elevates the story and is a stunning picture from start to finish. I really enjoy Kurosawa's Samurai films, and he brought something to the genre that made his work truly standout. Seven Samurai was his masterpiece, but Throne of Blood continues the tradition of telling a very good story set during the time of the Samurai. With tense atmosphere to really elevate the plot, Throne of Blood delivers a stunning film experience that captivates you from start to finish. Akira Kurosawa's always managed to tell sweeping stories with his films, and in doing so, he was able to make several highly entertaining and memorable pictures. The tone of the film is dark, and like Seven Samurai before it, unfolds steadily to really grab your attention with strong visuals and breathtaking set pieces. Overall this is a beautiful piece of cinema that wonderfully shot, and Kurosawa's always knew how to craft picture that used breathtaking cinematography to really elevate the film in a way that it needed to be. In the case of this film, the cinematography helps set the tone, atmosphere that is needed to tell such a story, and it makes for a truly engrossing and highly memorable picture that is sure to appeal to genre fans looking for bold, atmospheric and ultimately epic films that tell simple, yet good stories to really grab your attention. Thrones of Blood is yet another finely crafted epic from a director who has mastered the genre, and after this film, I am surprised that Kurosawa has always kept making consistent films. With that being said, he's one of the few filmmakers who has delivered time after time, and he never disappointed. Throne of Blood is a stunning film that is a must see.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Mar 11, 2013
    From the Criterion Collection Spine Number 190. Throne of Blood is a masterpiece by one of the world's greatest film makers at the height of his powers. Only Kurosawa could take the essence of Shakespearian stage drama and incorporate it into the medium of film as a dynamic tour de force. Yet at the same time he remains faithful to elements of Noh (a stagy traditional Japanese play-form in which design and movement are minimalized). A seeming contradiction, dynamism and static-ness yet Kurosawa masters both in the same medium. As usual; acting, writing, cinematography, sound, direction and production are all pitch perfect. In this second Shakespearian based film by Kurosawa, focus is on the interplay of fate, free will and the fine thread the human psyche uses to weave the two together. On a more simpler level it is a man living and dying by the sword. In short what goes around comes around. What comes around for Toshiro Mifune as he gets his just deserts is a scene with straight as an arrow, perfect direction by Kurosawa leading to quite a pointed culminatin of events (pun intended...see the movie you'll understand). Bonus features include excellent linear notes as well as the superb commentary of Donald Richie. Few people are more knowledgeable about film and Japanese film then he. The commentary is almost as interesting as the movie itself. As usual Criterion presents its film in pristine condition. Some may complain that Criterion is too pricey but with them you get the best cinema has to offer. You cannot go wrong. One Kurosawa masterpiece packs more poignancy, punch and philosophy then 10 lesser films thus you get 10 times the movie at 5 times the price, really quite a deal if you look at it that way, 3-8-13
    Bruce B Super Reviewer

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