Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • TBC
  • Action, Drama
  • 1957
  • 110 mins

Throne Of Blood

Film4 Throne of Blood

Synopsis

Kurosawa's full-throated, swiftly kinetic version of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. A bloody, eerie, visceral masterpiece

About

"Vaulting ambition that doth o'erleap itself" was Shakespeare's chilling judgement of Macbeth, the man who murdered his way to the top, losing his sanity on the way. Kurosawa's version has a similar crazy ambition: the story is transposed to Mount Fuji, made into a hyper-stylised Noh drama. Thankfully, Kurosawa crafts these conceits into a visceral, bloody supernatural drama devoid of creative hubris and breathtaking in its beauty, cruelty and virtuosic screen storytelling.

An ambitious samurai warlord Washizu (Mifune) follows a supernatural tip-off about his imminent elevation, and murders his master. The morality is as black-and-white as the cinematography - indeed, this is a film structured around savage contrasts: Mifune snapping and blustering with a helpless, wrong-headed aggression, while Asaji (Yamada), as his Lady Macbeth and malign inspiration, remains as impassive as sculpted ice. Eerie silence reigns in Cobweb Castle, while bloody fury rages on the battlefield.

It's hardly giving the story away to say that Washizu comes to a spectacularly bloody end - in one of the most memorable, fitting slayings ever shown on the big screen. Kurosawa has taken the essence of Shakespeare's story - murder, madness, betrayal - and made a loose adaptation. The final bloody point is that these "values" are universal, whether in a blasted Scottish castle or an embattled Japanese hill fortress. But in this story at least, all that results is death, damnation and torment.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Isuzu Yamada, Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Takamaru Sasaki, Akira Kubo
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writer: Hideo Oguni, Ryuzo Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa
  • Producer: Akira Kurosawa
  • Photographer: Asakazu Nakai

In a nutshell

A potent adaptation that captures all the strange atmosphere of Shakespeare's play, and invests it an exhilarating, visceral aesthetic.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    About Elly

    Taraneh Alidoosti stars in a gripping, award-winning mystery-thriller from Oscar-winning Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi.

  • Film4

    Odd Thomas

    Anton Yelchin stars in Stephen Sommers' charged adaptation of Dean Koontz's supernatural novel.

  • Film4

    Action Month 2016 on Film4

    A whole month of action favourites every night at 9.00pm throughout June.

  • Film4

    Kick-Ass 2 on Film4

    Jim Carrey, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloƫ Grace Moretz star in Film4's first play of the darkly comic sequel to Kick-Ass.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Five questions for Jim Gillespie

    We grabbed five minutes with Jim Gillespie after his Edinburgh International Film Festival directing masterclass to put five burning questions to the man behind I Know What You Did Last Summer, whose

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Clio Barnard's Dark River starts shooting

    Principal photography has commenced on Dark River, the third feature film from writer/director Clio Barnard (The Arbor, The Selfish Giant), starring Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Saving Mr Banks), Mark Sta

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share