Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shakespeare Series: Throne of Blood

Staring: ToshirĂ´ Mifune, Isuzu Yamada,
Director: Akira Kurosawa

Throne of Blood

Because I can assume that not all of you are deadbeats and that most of you have at least seen or read Macbeth, I won't get into the details. However, after second thought I'll provide some backround as this one has changed around things ever so slightly. Washizu (Mifune) is Macbeth. Asaji (Yamada) is Lady Macbeth. Macduff doesn't appear and Washizu's fate is the same, yet very different than Macbeth's (you'll understand).

I actually read an unintentionally funny “review” which claimed – in jest no doubt – that Throne of Blood was actually not really Shakespeare.

Are they kidding? I certainly hope that behind it all that they didn’t believe a word of it. Throne of Blood is undoubtedly a Shakespeare adaptation. There is no precedent to measure when an actual adaptation quits being an adaptation (this of course is within logical limits as you can’t just claim that a film is or isn’t on a whim). There are no set standards to what are necessary or unnecessary changes – look at all the unnecessary changes that occurred in such films as Return of the King. Would someone claim that The Shining isn’t an adaptation of the book of the same title? Overall, the essence of Throne of Blood is untouched when it comes to Macbeth.

The interpretation of the film is certainly different than the play. Where Kurosawa succeeded in making a very slick and visually symbolic film, it was almost entirely devoid of what made the play really great – they psychological attentiveness to practically all the characters. Other than a fleeting moment, pretty much all the characters seemed resigned to their fates, or at least what they believed their fate really was.

With that said, as I mentioned before, the film was visually stunning. Practically every scene was filled with symbolism and details that will take at least one more viewing before I catch it all.

Verdict: *** ½ /*****

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