Throne of Blood (Kumonosu jo)

Throne of Blood

Ambition makes the man.

Second in my Kurosawa-a-thon, Throne of Blood is a nearly direct adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, so having a good knowledge of this play will be of great benefit while viewing this film. For me, on the other hand, it’s been years since high school and I haven’t kept up on my Shakespeare, so while some bits were familiar I had the fortune of going through this one mostly blind, or at the very least as foggy as the Spider Web Forest itself.

This film transcribes the plot of Macbeth into a traditional Japanese sword-and-shield setting, and thus a viewing of this film is almost required in this particular context, otherwise it will just not be appealing to any but the most fervent viewer. It took a while for me to fall into the film’s style, and until then I made note of quite a few things I believed the film was doing wrong. After a good portion of the film had gone through my mind, however, I waived much of it off as mere stylistic choices (though I still found the dialogue somewhat stilted and formulaic), mostly because the film became incredibly engrossing. This is another example of a film that sucks you into its setting so completely your brain almost goes through a shift in processing it.

This is one that will benefit highly from a good knowledge of Macbeth, as the film takes a few liberties with the plot that may make it confusing to a viewer who has no such knowledge, which I essentially didn’t. Still, this is a surprisingly stylistic adaptation that manages to encapsulate everything that makes Macbeth the beloved play that it is, while still retaining its originality. I’m not really sure what else to say that hasn’t already been said about Macbeth itself, so I’ll wrap this up with a half-recommendation; as long as you are able to let yourself fall into the very different style and method of filmmaking this is built with, you’ll like this one.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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4 thoughts on “Throne of Blood (Kumonosu jo)

  1. Typically, my favorite Kurosawa film is any Kurosawa film I’ve seen in the last month. Barring that, this is my default favorite. Although the scene near the start with the two men riding endlessly through the fog gets redundant to the point of humor, I still think this film is as good as it gets.

    • Having watched Seven Samurai along with this one, I just didn’t find the flawlessness with this that I found with the former; there were too many technical faults that I found hard to ignore, especially in the beginning before I had the time to really fall into the film. Still, I liked it, even if I didn’t find it on the level of Seven Samurai or Rashomon.

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