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Japan, 1957
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
With Toshirō Mifune, Isuzu Yamada
Approx. 110 min. 35mm.

...or Castle of the Spider's Web, the literal translation of the Japanese title above. Macbeth transformed into a medieval Japanese legend, as General Mifune, with Minoru (the woodchopping samurai) Chiaki's "Banquo" at his side, gallops through a seemingly endless forest to his encounter with a single witch, then, as a dense fog lifts — within the shot — finds himself before a looming castle. With the legendary Isuzu Yamada (six marriages, 50 years a star as his Lady, this is a partnership of titans. ("Now that's real acting!" remarked Mifune while years later watching a clip of Yamada in action.) Mifune's takeover after the murder, and the castle's bird invasion are powerful and fascinating additions to the text in this heavily Noh-influenced adaptation: chanting chorus, trilling flute, the endlessly spinning witch dubbed by an actor. How-they-do-it department: except for the final hit, there is no camera trickery in the famous final scene. Real archers fired real arrows from just off camera. "Who wouldn't be scared?" remarked Mifune when complimented on his acting of terror.


“As a piece of cinema, however, THRONE OF BLOOD defeats categorisation. It remains a landmark of visual strength, permeated by a particularly Japanese sensibility, and is possibly the finest Shakespearean adaptation ever committed to the screen.”
– Derek Malcolm, The Guardian

Film Forum