Tense psychological thriller written, directed by and starring Icelandic auteur Baltasar Kormákur.
Kurosawa's full-throated, swiftly kinetic version of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. A bloody, eerie, visceral masterpiece
"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.
A potent adaptation that captures all the strange atmosphere of Shakespeare's play, and invests it an exhilarating, visceral aesthetic.
39 titles from Film4's library will be launched to buy or rent on iTunes and Amazon on August 1st, 2016. The collection includes classics and award-winners which will be available for digital download
Ahead of the Film4 Summer Screen presentation of The Final Girls, director Todd Strauss-Schulson reflects on the making of 2015's heartfelt horror homage... The Final Girls came into my life when
The best all-singing, all-dancing showstoppers every committed to screen
A summary of the critics and film professionals who voted for the top 50 Horror films of the 21st Century