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Throne of Blood [VHS] [1957]

Toshir˘ Mifune , Isuzu Yamada , Akira Kurosawa    Parental Guidance   VHS Tape
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Actors: Toshir˘ Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Hiroshi Tachikawa, Akira Kubo
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Ryűz˘ Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Akira Kurosawa, S˘jir˘ Motoki
  • Format: PAL, Black & White
  • Language: Japanese
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Connoisseur Video
  • VHS Release Date: 24 Jan 2000
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CLJG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,931 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

From Amazon.co.uk

A champion of illumination and experimental shading, Kurosawa brings his unerring eye for indelible images to Shakespeare in this 1957 adaptation of Macbeth. By changing the locale from Birnam Wood to 16th-century Japan, Kurosawa makes an oddball argument for the trans-historicity of Shakespeare's narrative; and indeed, stripped to the bare mechanics of the plot, the tale of cut-throat ambition rewarded (and thwarted) feels infinitely adaptable. What's lost in the translation, of course, is the force and beauty of the language--much of the script of Throne of Blood is maddeningly repetitive or superfluous--but striking visual images (including the surreal Cobweb Forest and some extremely artful gore) replace the sublime poetry. Toshiro Mifune is theatrically intense as Washizu, the samurai fated to betray his friend and master in exchange for the prestige of nobility; he portrays the ill-fated warrior with a passion bordering on violence, and a barely concealed conviviality. Somewhat less successful is Isuzu Yamada as Washizu's scheming wife; her poise and creepy impassivity, chilling at first, soon grows tedious. Kurosawa himself is the star of the show, though, and his masterful use of black-and-white contrast--not to mention his steady, dramatic hand with a battle scene--keeps the proceedings thrilling. A must-see for fans of Japanese cinema, as well as all you devotees of samurai weapons and armour. --Miles Bethany

Product Description

Akira Kurosawa's film version of 'Macbeth' transfers the action to medieval Japan, where a samurai warrior (Toshiro Mifune) is urged to murder his lord (Takashi Shimura) and his best friend (Minoru Chiaki) by a forest spirit and an ambitious wife (Isuzu Yamada). Kurosawa renders 'the Scottish play' through the conventions of traditional Japanese Noh theatre, creating what was reputedly T.S. Eliot's favourite film. Features the famous ending, with Toshiro Mifune caught under hails of arrows.

Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kurosawa Classic 19 Dec 2003
Format:DVD
A great deal has been made of the fact that THRONE OF BLOOD (also known as SPIDER'S WEB CASTLE) is drawn from one of Shakespeare's most celebrated plays. This is both a blessing and a curse, for while it gives western audiences a point of reference, it also invites all sorts of comparisons that viewers familiar with the Shakespeare play feel honor-bound to make--and that can get in the way of seeing the film as it is rather than what we expect it to be. And that would be a great pity, because what it is in and of itself is quite fine indeed.
The cast is a very strong ensemble, with frequent Kurosawa star Torshiro Mifune leading the film with a remarkably fine performance as the ambitious warrior Taketori Washizu. To my mind, however, the most memorable performance is offered by Isuzu Yamada as Lady Washizu--who plays the role with a demonic stillness that cracks into physical action only when she is completely sure of herself or in utter desperation. It is one of the most disturbing characterizations I have ever encountered.
As usual in any Kurosawa film, the imagery involved is extremely powerful, and the moody tone of the film quickly draws viewers in--and once ensnared there is no escape; the film holds your attention with considerable ease throughout. Even so, I would not recommend THRONE OF BLOOD to western audiences who have never seen a Kurosawa film, for it is so completely Japanese in aesthetic that some may find it hard to grasp. It is best seen after you are already familiar with both Kurosawa's work and Japanese cinema in general.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, surreal, and chilling 26 Jun 2004
Format:DVD
Throne of Blood is one of those Shakespeare adaptations which is not a simple retelling but a superb Japanese story of the lust for power and the rewards it reaps. Kurosawa was inspired by Noh theatre, hence some of the make up and scenes. His use of black and white imagery is strong in this film - he really is the master. Of course, the best scene remains Toshiro Mifune in his castle being attacked, with arrows flying into the wall right beside him. Look close - that's real fear. Kurosawa had champion archers firing real arrows at poor old Mifune. All in the name of good cinema.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful film, deserves a better print 6 Oct 2010
By Livfoss
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The version being sold by Amazon UK, which is published by the British Film Institute, doesn't seem to be the one reviewed in every case. For example, there is no choice of English subtitles, which one reviewer mentions. The actual BFI one, although acceptable, looks as if it's taken from a 'dupe' print. The black and white photography is extremely important to this film, but some of the detail is lost. A blu-ray version taken from the original negative would reveal an enormous amount, I believe.

That said, I agree with the majority of the reviewers that the film is a masterpiece; and to a Western viewer, the alien world which it shows adds to the fascination. The buildings, clothes, decor, mode of speech, even the way people sit and move, seem extraordinary to me - but that makes the film a more interesting experience than otherwise.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "THE FOREST IS MOVING" 19 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Kurosawa has never failed to impress me and this is yet again pure genius.
Mifune is as ever showing how to be a great actor and for me the best ever so far.
The techniques and style adopted into the making of this masterpiece are executed with such force, proves that this is the best ever rendition of Macbeth. And as if that wasn't enough we are treated to perhaps the most tense 5 minutes ever filmed in cinema history. The last moments of this film are breath-taking. A scene that should be hailed as one of the greatest ever filmed. it is just pure genius.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa - not Shakespeare 24 Nov 2011
By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Directed by Akira Kurosawa with himself and William Shakespeare (and others) credited in the writing credits of this DVD of the 1957 film "Throne of Blood", it shows the integrity of the man willing to acknowledge Shakespeare as an original source, an approach not always adopted by modern writers and filmmakers. However, it also poses a problem for western audiences almost complelling them to look for "the Shakespeare" in this deeply Japanese film. This approach is unfortunate, to say the least, because it often immures them from the Japanese culture, occasionally even seeing it as a hindrance to seeing the Shakespeare, leaving them disappointed.

Kurosawa (1910-1998) was undoubtedly one of the greatest filmmakers of all times, directing thirty films in his fifty-seven year career, all of which have his trademark direction, i.e. multiple cameras, long lenses, deep focus, unusual angles, fast-editing and the film's graininess. He also edited his own films and saw this as the really creative aspect.

This "Macbeth" inspired, intensely Japanese film is one of Kurosawa's best but it is best to view it as that, a deep insight into Japanese culture rather than a Shakespearean re-make. The DVD has a few bonus features.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noisy genius 4 Aug 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I've been a Kurosawa fan for some time, but had never seen Throne OF Blood before. I bought this expecting great things having read the previous reviews - however - I was surprised that no-one had mentioned how poor the sound quality was; there is a continual sound of eggs and bacon frying loudly in the background. I know enough about film restoration to know that cleaning up an old soundtrack is fairly straightforward with current technology, but I don't know if this poor sound is peculiar to the bfi edition which I bought. Many of the previous reviewers seem to have reviewied the US Criterion version which I assume must have better sound quality otherwise it would have been mentioned in the reviews. As for the movie - well it's great, slow, but then so is the Shakespeare play on which it is based, but none the worse for that. Four stars only though due to the shamefully noisy soundtrack.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Macbeth as you've never seen it!
For once the PR blurb is right - it's a classic.
Published 13 days ago by Peter G
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa At His Most Majestic
It is a while, I'll admit, since I either read Shakespeare's 'Scottish play' (schooldays!) or indeed saw Jon Finch's 1971 big screen depiction and in the meantime I had forgotten... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Keith M
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Classic Movie
A lot is written about Akira Kurosawa's movies on his influences on other famous films etc ... I will not impose upon anyone those ideas .. only to say ... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jason {PSN ID MPGeezer}
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Best version of Macbeth ever. Possibly Kurosawa at his finest, better than Ran and Yojimbo. A must for fans of Shakespearean film adaptations
Published 12 months ago by Mr Hefin Rees
5.0 out of 5 stars this is the stuff
his is the stuff to get your teeth into good acting good scenery costumes all up to expectations top marks
Published 17 months ago by R. S. Kerr
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift
I'm sure I love it, but I haven't watched it as it was a gift. As far as I remember, its a great film
Published 20 months ago by Pandora
4.0 out of 5 stars Hi, Wa kari mas
The dvd didn't like to play subtitles on the pc dvd player but once I played it on my main dvd player it gave me all selections and options. Read more
Published on 18 Dec 2009 by C. L. Vidler
4.0 out of 5 stars Cut the noise Toshiro!! There's a strange old man in a bamboo cage
Mist and fog and a lot of shouting. T.S.Eliot's favourite film. He generally went to the theatre. Moves at snail's pace mostly and because the language has nothing of Shakespeare,... Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2009 by Mario
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully dark, dark and powerful
Once you see Throne of Blood you will want to watch it again and again. The dark lust for power, brilliant acting, deep powerful story will grab you sink it's teeth into you. Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2009 by Borodino
4.0 out of 5 stars Historic cinema, but tough for modern film fans
You may wonder about renting or buying Throne of Blood because you've heard so much about the films of Akira Kurosawa -- most notably the Seven Samurai, which Hollywood re-created... Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2007 by Rowena Hoseason
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