Throne of Blood Reviews
Despite being lifted from Shakespeare's Macbeth, the narrative screams shaky uncertainty and instability, as Kurosawa guides us through what is essentially a foggy variety show of sporadic moralising, navel-gazing, sword fights and messenger reports. All of the Kurosawa trademarks are here somewhere, they just never jump out at us, or come together in a way that really reels us in.
However, Throne of Blood isn't without its merits or moments of greatness - Toshiro Mifune, for example, is, in a word, mental. The great samurai actor has to be seen to be believed in his most harrowing will-he-or-won't-he-explode-at-any-moment performance of the lot.
Of course the main actor and really the man who could even be said to steal the show from even Akira Kurosawa, is Toshiro Mifune who for me is a top actor, and especially when playing a samurai. Of course many will point to "Seven Samurai" and "Rashomon" as his finest performances and collaborations with Kurosawa, but for me never forget this one because he is very good indeed, out doing the entire cast and the movie without him would have possibly suffered greatly. I think without Kurosawa's directing you would also be seeing a worse off film because he really brings this to life and the story just bursts from the screen in the early moments and that heavy rain mixed with dense fog and swaying but eerily silent trees make this not only a great plot, but also ascetically incredible.
I must mention of course the rest of the cast including such people as Isuzu Yamada, Minoru Chiaki and Takashi Shimura who join a cast who are relatively good but never good enough to match Mifune. The way in which Kurosawa's direction works is that he seems to just know how to make you focus on the scene, whether that is through a character gone mad, a battle or even the rain etc that I mentioned. When you add everything together it is Kurosawa who then surprises you, and this is in a story where you know how it ends, but it doesn't matter because not only is this set in feudal Japan, but also because Kurosawa makes the story fresh and lively.
I'm not quite sure if this is his very best mostly based on the fact that Kurosawa seems to just make what people consider great movies over and over again. One thing I do want to say though is that if you're really looking for a great feel of a film, the kind of movie where you become entwined in the plot and the atmosphere, this is definitely one to watch of that as it just seems to draw you in at every turn. If your new to Kurosawa then this is a great place to start, it's not only really likeable but also at times just a nice little yarn to watch, and of course to mention this is a great watch for any aspiring director who wants to learn how Akira seems to do it.
I think as movies go this is one I maybe watched with slight apprehension over what to expect but came out very much liking it and it was really good as well. So there you have it, Macbeth set in Japan, a kind of movie where there probably won't be one like it ever again because it's just so different (and Macbeth in samurai set Japan). Wonder at the skills of Kurosawa and Mifune, confuse yourself over who is really the bad person in this, and don't try and look out for Macduff, he's apparently called Noriyasu now.
Toshiro Mifune, eres increible.