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Throne of Blood (The Criterion Collection) (1961)

Toshir˘ Mifune , Minoru Chiaki , Akira Kurosawa  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Toshir˘ Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Akira Kubo
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Ryűz˘ Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Akira Kurosawa, S˘jir˘ Motoki
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 27, 2003
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008RH1H
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,881 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Throne of Blood (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New high-definition transfer with restored image and sound
  • Audio Commentary by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck
  • New essay by Stephen Prince (The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa)
  • Two alternative subtitle translations: a new version from renowned Japanese-film translator Linda Hoagland, and Kurowawa expert Donald Richie's subtitles utilizing Jacobean diction
  • Notes on subtitling by Linda Hoagland and Donald Richie

Editorial Reviews

One of the most celebrated screen adaptations of Shakespeare into film, Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood re-imagines Macbeth in feudal Japan. Starring Kurosawa’s longtime collaborator Toshiro Mifune and the legendary Isuzu Yamada as his ruthless wife, the film tells of a valiant warrior’s savage rise to power and his ignominious fall. With Throne of Blood, Kurosawa fuses one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies with the formal elements of Japanese Noh theater to make a Macbeth that is all his own—a classic tale of ambition and duplicity set against a ghostly landscape of fog and inescapable doom.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two great tastes that go great together! October 8, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Kurosawa and Shakespeare are a winning combination. With "Throne of Blood," Kurosawa strips Macbeth to the bare bones of plot, then packs on new flesh in the form of scheming ambition in feudal Japan.
In this version, Washizu (Macbeth) is somewhat simple, and content with what comes his way, be it castle or fort, honor or deceit. His wife, the infamous Lady Macbeth, is chillingly calm and dangerous. She has no interest in her husband's contentment, and knows that the only way to advance her position is to advance the position of her husband, by whatever means necessary. Her role as the spider is particularly suited to the halls of the Cobweb Castle.
The acting and filming are up to the quality that one expects from Kurosawa and Mifune. The pacing of the film is full of dynamic contrasts, going from heart-pounding action to patient silence. This film is not spoon-fed to you, but demands your concentration. The visuals are particularly stunning in "Throne of Blood." The cobweb forest is haunting, and the single weird sister, all in white spinning in a white cage, maintains the same chilling calmness of Washizu's wife.
One of the many nice touches of "Throne of Blood" is the chance to see that Samurai at the height of their power. These are not the poor, struggling warriors of "Seven Samurai" or "Yojimbo." Washizu is decked out in full armor for the bulk of the film, and his castle is defended and attacked by well-dressed armies. Each lord is powerful and wields mighty forces.
Oh, and of course, the big finish. All I can say is wow.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kurosawa Classic December 7, 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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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute excellence March 22, 2006
Format:DVD
Throne of Blood is a masterpiece by one of the world's greatest film makers at the height of his powers.

Only Kurosawa could take the essence of Shakespearian stage drama and incorporate it into the medium of film as a dynamic tour de force. Yet at the same time he remains faithful to elements of Noh (a stagy traditional Japanese play-form in which design and movement are minimalized). A seeming contradiction, dynamism and static-ness yet Kurosawa masters both in the same medium. As usual; acting, writing, cinematography, sound, direction and production are all pitch perfect.

In this second Shakespearian based film by Kurosawa, focus is on the interplay of fate, free will and the fine thread the human psyche uses to weave the two together. On a more simpler level it is a man living and dying by the sword. In short what goes around comes around. What comes around for Toshiro Mifune as he gets his just deserts is a scene with straight as an arrow, perfect direction by Kurosawa leading to quite a pointed culminatin of events (pun intended...see the movie you'll understand).

Bonus features include excellent linear notes as well as the superb commentary of Donald Richie. Few people are more knowledgeable about film and Japanese film then he. The commentary is almost as interesting as the movie itself.

As usual Criterion presents its film in pristine condition. Some may complain that Criterion is too pricey but with them you get the best cinema has to offer. You cannot go wrong. One Kurosawa masterpiece packs more poignancy, punch and philosophy then 10 lesser films thus you get 10 times the movie at 5 times the price, really quite a deal if you look at it that way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great great great film.
One of Kurosawa's best samurai films, you won't believe how thrilling it is! MacBeth happens to be my favorite Shakespearean play too. Read more
Published 1 month ago by T. Trinchera
5.0 out of 5 stars Throne of Blood
No one dose Shakesper better than the Japanese except may be the Klingons. This is one of my favorites along with Ran.
Published 2 months ago by michael
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie
It's incredible. From start to finish, it's not boring, it doesn't drag on, and it shows a completely different style of cinema that's incredible to watch.
Published 2 months ago by The_Greenarrow
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
Once Shakespeare is rendered cinematically in Japanese, all the great poetry is lost. But what a cinefile's delight ! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Urmuz
5.0 out of 5 stars Themes common to both East and West.
Amazing tragedy that must have resonated with the Japanese, the director in particular, after the tragedy of WW2. The cinematography is surreal.
Published 2 months ago by sigurd anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant adaptation
"Throne of Blood" is Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa's interpretation of William Shakespeare's "MacBeth. Read more
Published 2 months ago by B. Adducchio
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't go wrong with Kurosawa
Rented a VHS copy from Hollywood Video over ten years ago. What I can't believe is how much I still remembered the movie while rewatching it on Blu ray. Read more
Published 2 months ago by parkym
4.0 out of 5 stars A Slight Upgrade on Blu-ray
This is my favorite Kurosawa film. I won't bore you with a plot summary you can read elsewhere so I'll talk about the picture quality. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John C
5.0 out of 5 stars good take on the story line.
everything I expected it to be. mifune's acting superb as usual. dvd production copy excellent. would recommend this to friends.
Published 3 months ago by bill
5.0 out of 5 stars Another underrated classic!
Cannot wait for a blu-ray version of this film. The transfer is good but a blu-ray would be better for my collection.
Published 8 months ago by A. Monsanto
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