Throne of Blood
(The Castle of the Spider's Web)
Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki,
In his audacious adaptation of Macbeth, Akira Kurosawa captures the power and emotional grandeur of the original without using a word of Shakespeare’s language, instead relying on the aesthetics of Noh theater and his own visual and cinematic invention to brilliantly evoke the Bard’s themes of destruction, guilt, and overwhelming greed. Lords, warriors, witches, wives, and the prophesies that bind and bloody them make up the narrative, but the film’s true force comes from its claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing milieu of darkened forests, low-ceilinged castles, and a drifting fog that chillingly haunts every frame lensed by Asaichi Nakai. Toshiro Mifune brings his Macbeth to life with a concentrated physicality, using every gesture and glance to become a man possessed, then destroyed, by a dream of power. His look of terror during the penultimate scene might be traced to more than acting: Kurosawa had an archery squad shoot real arrows at him from just offscreen, their only instructions to aim very, very close.