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aka - Kumonosu jô
Japan 1957
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
110 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars

Throne Of Blood

Kurosawa's extraordinary transposition of Macbeth to feudal Japan, like his much later interpretation of King Lear in Ran (1985),is a marvel of cinematic staging.

Although some may prefer the evocative black and white photography here, particularly the scenes set in the mist-shrouded, storm-swept landscape, as the later film show, much was also lost when it comes to representing the rich colours of the costumes and the choreography of the massed armies. On the other hand Toshiro Mifune gives a powerful performance as the misguided warlord, Washizu, as does, in a much quieter way, Isuzu Yamada as Asaji, his ruthlessly ambitious, manipulative wife and the film is dramatically and metaphorically more potent than Ran.

The screenplay superbly hybridises Noh stylisations and the conventions of the samurai film, of which Kurosawa was the undisputed master, with aspects of Shakespeare's play, one memorable moment being the Lady Macbeth/Asaji washing of her blood-stained hands.




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