July 13, 2017
Throne of Blood.
Review #968: Throne of Blood.
Toshiro Mifune (Washizu Taketoki), Isuzu Yamada (Washizu Asaji), Takashi Shimura (Odakura Noriyasu), Akira Kubo (Miki Yoshiteru), Hiroshi Tachikawa (Tsuzaki Kunimaru), Minoru Chiaki (Miki Yoshiaki), Takamaru Sasaki (Lord Tsuzuki Kuniharu), Kokuten Kōdō (First General), Ueda Kichijiro (Washizu's workman), Eiko Miyoshi (Old Woman at castle), and Chieko Naniwa (The Spirit of Spider's Web) Directed by Akira Kurosawa.
It is good to do another world cinema film, particularly one from Japan, with this being the sixth covered (#167 - Gojira, #711 - Mothra, #735 - A Page of Madness, #737 - House (1977), and #922 - Himiko). Throne of Blood (also known as Kumonosu-jō, which translates to Spider Web Castle) is based off the play MacBeth by William Shakespeare, with a few liberties taken (alongside a change of setting to feudal Japan), though one can forgive that in a movie as evocative as this movie is. It's amazing how long it has taken for me to cover a film directed by Akira Kurosawa, considered one of the most seminal filmmakers in cinema, with this being his 17th feature film.
There is just something so majestic about the movie, where the design along with the acting come together to make something so entertaining along with thrilling. Mifune (who starred in sixteen of Kurosawa's films) manages to convey his emotions and character without having to resort to having too much expression on his face; the final scene involving the arrows is the best example, in that you can clearly see the terror of having to dodge actual arrows (for the sake of realism), with his expressions being fairly clear. He does everything quite clearly and effectively, without any sense of dodgy intention. The scene where he is trying to rally his men during the climax is also a key manic highlight. Yamada is also excellent, doing a fine job at showing her ambition and her grip on Mifune's character, and the resulting aftermath. Her last scene with him is the most striking along with the most emotionally powerful to watch, especially with her not blinking throughout the film. The rest of the cast is also pretty good, with Shimura and Kubo being useful highlights, particularly when conversing with Mifune. The showcasing of emotions and themes is quite clear to see, from the consequence of human ambition to the power of fate. The cinematography by Asakazu Nakai is quite commendable, being great to look at and see executed on screen. The atmosphere of the movie is great, where the sets and design look quite realistic and the action has a sharp but incredible feel to watch. The music by Masaru Sato is also fairly striking, and the chants at the end are fitting for the tone of the film. It is easy for me to recommend this one, in part because of the core elements that make for a great film, from the way the film is constructed to the actors to the action and look of the movie.
Overall, I give it 10 out of 10 stars.