Friday, 30 June 2017

Throne of Blood (1957)

Throne of Blood (Spider Web Castle) is a 1957 Japanese film co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film transposes the plot of Shakespeare's play Macbeth from Medieval Scotland to feudal Japan, with stylistic elements drawn from Noh drama, a classical form of music drama dating back to the fourteenth century.

According to Kurosawa:

"It was a very hard film to make. We decided that the main castle set had to be built on the slope of Mount Fuji, not because I wanted to show this mountain but because it has precisely the stunted landscape that I wanted. And it is usually foggy. I had decided that I wanted lots of fog for this film... Making the set was very difficult because we didn't have enough people and the location was so far from Tokyo. Fortunately, there was a U.S. Marine Corps base nearby and they helped a great deal; also a whole MP battalion helped us out. We all worked very hard indeed, clearing the ground, building the set. Our labor on this steep fog-bound slope, I remember, absolutely exhausted us; we almost got sick."

The film has received praise from literary critics, despite the many liberties it takes with the original play. In 1961, the Time review praised Kurosawa and the film as "a visual descent into the hell of greed and superstition." The American literary critic Harold Bloom judged it "the most successful film version of Macbeth." In his 2015 Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gave the film four stars, calling it a "Graphic, powerful adaptation."

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