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8 9 9 9 8 9 8 8 8 8 = 84
We may see it like a stage drama, the movements of characters are interesting, but it relatively minimize the iconic energy of Akira Kurosawa in the domain of cinematography.
As a teenager I fell in love with the films of Kurosawa and The Cobweb Forest was different from The Samurai Seven in a way that it helped me understand Shakespeare and also pass my midterms in English Lit.
"Throne of Blood" is the best adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth ever filmed and a lasting monument to what cinema can be in the hands of a true master. The camera work is flawless, the editing nothing less than perfect, the actors, especially Toshiro Mifune (as General Washizu aka Macbeth) and Isuzu Yamada (as his wife Asaji aka Lady Macbeth) at the height of their art.
(Fun fact: Based on the mask-like and stylized appearance of actors from the classic Japanese Noh theatre, Lady Asaji never once blinks with her eyes. Which proves once again: evil never sleeps.)
I was on the edge of my seat. This is *living* Shakespeare.
Edit: I've decided to increase this film's rating from 3 and a half to four and a half stars, because I feel like my criticism with it (mentioned below) has more to do with the expectations I had going into it. As it stands, I now consider it to be a great film.
Although this doesn't rank with Kurosawa's best work since its visuals are at the forefront and several characters are either given very little screen time or disappear for long sections of the film, it makes up for this flaw by its jaw-dropping selection of visuals. Several visual set pieces are shot in such a unique way that this film almost feels like an expressionist nightmare. Fog often envelops the screen in multiple scenes, giving the film a hellish and absurd feel. In addition, multiple visual set pieces such as birds flying from the forest and the shots of the trees moving toward the castle are definite standouts. While I still prefer the poetry of Shakespeare's play, I think the cinematography caused this film to work in its own way. Overall, I'd still recommend this one.
A visual smorgasbord of gorgeous black and white photography and manic energy, this is a Shakespeare adaptation with a bite; once that trades theatrical pedantic dialogue for something far more cinematic, and nearly wins all in the process.
Kurosawa takes on Shakespeare in this eerie and gloomy tale. The cinematography is amazing and he sets the mood so hauntingly well throughout. Like a lot of his films, there are scenes that drag that kind of ruin the pace of the overall thing but there's so much here that stands out as some of his most interesting work.
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.
We could use real movies like this to counter trash like ''tombraider 2018'', b-panther, soylo a soy wars story, And the lowly ''force awakens'' series.
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.