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THRONE OF BLOOD

Japan, 1957 (MIFF 1959, Programme 2)

Director: Akiro Kurosawa

Japan's most esteemed director, Akira Kurosawa. had long considered making a Japanese version of "Macbeth". The result is Throne of Blood, a film in which Kurosawa's thought and skill have perfectly placed the original plot in a thirteenth century Japanese setting.

Cast in an era of civil strife and constant feuds between rival war lords, the film opens with the victorious Taketoki and Yoshiaki Miki — the counterparts of Macbeth and Banquo — making their way back to their overlord's castle through a baffling network of forest paths. Here they meet a weird, unearthly woman who foretells immediate honour for Taketoki, and his eventual rise to the lordship of Cobweb Castle.

Beyond adding a few original incidents, Director Kurosawa — who is best known here for his Rashomon and Seven Samurai — has not attempted to change the Shakespearean original. He has created a film of unique texture; magnificent in its scenes of the old Japanese battles with their individual close combat action; evocative in its portrayal of the guilty couple with their sense of sinister intimacy, and brilliant in its acting.

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