Friday, April 10, 2009

Samurai Saturday: Apr 11th.


This saturday's offering on IFC's Samurai Saturday is Akira Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood", which is a re-imagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth. I confess, I have never watched this one all the way through. (Oh, the shame!). Here is the quick synopsis:

Macbeth is reimagined as a samurai in feudal Japan in director Akira Kurosawa's classic adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy. Familiar with Orson Welles's more faithful adaptation, Kurosawa chose to place a more personal stamp on his version by translating the events and characters to historical Japan. The equivalent of the tragic Scottish lord is Taketoki Washizu (Toshiro Mifune), a valiant warrior whose life is transformed by an encounter with a ghostly female spirit. The spirit offers several predictions, finally stating that Washizu will rise to power over the current warlord. When these predictions begin coming true, he and his ambitious wife decide to ensure his ascendancy to power by murdering the current ruler. As with Macbeth, Washizu achieves his goal, but his guilt and the suspicions of others soon bring about his downfall. The shift to Japanese settings is seamless, creating a historically accurate and resonant work with a culturally distinct visual style. The supporting performances also recall Japanese tradition, particularly Isuzu Yamada's creepily unemotional take on Lady Macbeth, while Mifune proves consistently gripping in the sheer intensity of his performance. The intelligence of Kurosawa's alterations retains the drama's tragic impact, especially during the conclusion, in which Washizu makes a memorable final stand against an advancing army. Impressive in every regard, Throne of Blood seems secure in the pantheon of superior film adaptations of William Shakespeare.

5 comments:

  1. I've never seen this one either, although I like the Kurosawa movies I've seen, samurai and other. Curious to hear about his treatment of the witches.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Throne of Blood is pretty damned slow, even by Kurosawa standards. It has its moments, but it's far from Kurosawa's best.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is encouraging me to sit down and watch all my Kurosawa DVDs again... I have got to find some time!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's worth it if just for the final battle scene where Toshiro Mifune has real arrows shot at him.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is my favourite Kurosawa, and one of my favourite films ever!

    ReplyDelete