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With: Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Akira Kubo, Hiroshi Tachikawa, Minoru Chiaki, Takamaru Sasaki
Written by: Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, written by William Shakespeare
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 105
Date: 01/15/1957

Throne of Blood (1957)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Scottish Play in Japanese

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I first saw this in a winter course I took on Shakespeare in college; it was the only film the teacher screened during the course, and a wise choice. Based loosely on Macbeth, Throne of Blood is one of director Akira Kurosawa's best movies -- though certainly one of his most downbeat -- and arguably the best Shakespeare ever filmed. Somehow the setting is perfectly transposed from Scotland to samurai-era Japan, using the mists of Mount Fuji to stunning effect. The bloody showdown with hundreds of arrows flying toward Toshiro Mifune apparently inspired Brian De Palma and the final scene of Scarface.

The Criterion Collection released the superb Throne of Blood DVD. A dual DVD/Blu-ray edition followed in 2013. It contains a restored 2K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack, a commentary track with Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck, a documentary on the making of the film, a trailer, and two alternate subtitle tracks, one by Japanese-film translator Linda Hoaglund and one by Kurosawa expert Donald Richie. The liner notes booklet includes an essay by Stephen Prince and notes on the subtitling.

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