Monday, July 17, 2017

Movie review - "Throne of Blood" (1957) ****

Snazzy adaptations of Shakespeare have become a cliche because they are so handy as a way for directors to get a reputation ("it's Romeo and Juliet between penguins and polar bears!" "King Lear set in the Congo!). This is one that gives it a good name, a brooding, gripping Kurosawa adaptation of Macbeth.

It's set in a world of fog and rain and wind and harsh dirt ground and volcanic ash and creepy witches with face covered in all-white make up living in the forest. It's visually stunning with these samurais galloping around and pulling up in courtyards and massive gates, not to mention screen wipes and long shots of warriors with their spears at hats.

Toshiro's Mifune is perfect to play the intense Macbeth (the character has a different name - let's just call him Macbeth - uptight, lusting after power but scared of that lust. He's pretty nutty from the get-go but because it's Mifune he's got extra gas in the tank to go the Full Nut.

Isuzu Yamada is fully creepy as the seemingly ruthless, very closed and face-painted Lady Macbeth. It's a real jolt at the end when she loses her stuff.

Some incredible action, whether the final assault on the castle (the trees moving), Mifune's death via a thousand arrows, the murder sequences. Takashi Shimura is in it as the Macduff character but for some reason his presence didn't really register with me. (While Macduff should be a great role I struggle to remember any great Macduffs).

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