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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kurosawa Classic, 19 Dec 2003
By 
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
The Criterion DVD is quite good, with a nicely restored transfer and bonus features that include the original trailer, a choice of subtitle translations (I prefer the Hoagland translation), and a somewhat awkward but ultimately rewarding commentary track by Michael Jeck. If you're a Kurosawa fan and you've never seen THRONE OF BLOOD, this is your opportunity; if you're looking to replace an existing video with a DVD, this one is likely as good as it gets. Strongly recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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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
This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (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
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This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (DVD)
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
This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (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 "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (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
By 
D. Peters (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (DVD)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hi, Wa kari mas, 18 Dec 2009
By 
C. L. Vidler (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (DVD)
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. The film was very clear and the quality of the complete package was as advertised. I am a big fan of everything Japanese/film/culture, and the samurai period more than most. This film did not dissapoint, it was fast action, plenty of sub plots and some epic fighting scenes, well worth the purchase price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Classic Movie, 29 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (DVD)
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 ... I have seen repeatedly all of Kurosawa's Samurai films and have never had less than being greatly entertained and enthralled .. so forget the subtitles, forget the black & white .. sit back .. concentrate, and enjoy this cinematic classic, as all of his films are to some degree, and then wonder why you haven't seen them before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully dark, dark and powerful, 28 Jun 2009
This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (DVD)
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. There is no escape from the inevitable demise of the "hero" as he dies the death of deaths on the tips of hundreds of arrows. If you want to watch a movie that will make its mark on your viewing experience, this magnificent film is the one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historic cinema, but tough for modern film fans, 17 Oct 2007
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] (DVD)
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 as The Magnificent Samurai. If so, then you should be prepared for a very different style of film-making; much more slowly paced than modern movies. In fact it's more like a play acted out on a fixed stage, with scene changes.

There are some fabulously stylish cinematic moments here, and for fans of Mifune or Kurosawa than it's a must-see. The story parallels Macbeth in the rise to power of a weak man manipulated by his scheming wife, with much scheming and plotting and murdering.

However, some viewers will find that it's just too leisurely in its pace, and that some of the scenes are too drawn out. The 'horses gallop past again' moment does tend to get a bit jaded on repeat watching!

Fascinating viewing for cinema buffs; otherwise it may just leave you mistified.
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Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD]
Throne Of Blood [1957] [DVD] by Akira Kurosawa (DVD - 2001)
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