Monday, March 12, 2012

Throne of Blood. A

There are few cinematic places that I like more than Akira Kurosawa's medieval samurai world. That's the setting for his masterful telling of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Throne of Blood. My knowledge of the play has waned slightly since I read it in high school, so I'm not certain how faithful Kurosawa's film is to its source. But he certainly gets the basic ideas of the plot down, which concern a noble warrior's rise in dominion through his wife's sinister plotting. But where Macbeth was a highly psychological work, Throne of Blood incorporates Noh, the highly dramatic Japanese theatre that is all about the surface. Rather than using subtlety and engaging in any kind of philosophical thought, Kurosawa tells his story like a costume drama, relying purely on expression in face and words to convey the themes of the story. And this works wonderfully, giving the film a sort of epic grandeur and sweep worthy of its magnificent themes. Visually, like all of Kurosawa's films, Throne of Blood is amazing, particularly the way he shoots the scenes in the Spider's Web Woods, and also the explosive, arrow-filled ending. This is one of my top 5 favorites from Akira Kurosawa.

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