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#2. Throne of Blood - Review

Throne of BloodLast night I watched Akira Kurosawa's film Throne of Blood for the first time. The film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, but Kurosawa only uses the original play as a stepping-off point to weave his own tale of murderous ambition in ancient Japan. It is always an odd feeling just having finished a "classic" film for the first time. I am always suspicious of my reactions to a film like Throne of Blood because I feel as though I have a responsibility to enjoy it. Critics and audiences alike have been praising this film for close to 50 years, so of course I have to love it, right? Even worse, what does it say about me if I didn't get it? If, God help me, I didn't just fall in love with the movie does that mean I am not smart enough? That I am not cut out to analyze film? I guess the best I can do is just come on here and give my honest reaction... It was pretty good. At first I really thought I hated it, but throughout my entire day I couldn't stop thinking about the samurai Washizu, and his inevitable and unavoidable downfall, having been shown his own future. Would things have turned out as tragically as they did if he had not known his own fate? Should a man's ambition also be his wife's, or is it the other way around? I am a married man, and I confess it is very easy to mix and confuse our dreams and goals. Of course, my wife doesn't look like Asaji (Isuzu Yamada): This woman is frightening! The way she moves across the frame is terrifying; eerily resembling both an apparition and a snake slithering in for an easy kill. I am sure many comparisons to Adam and Eve have been made in the past. Lady Asaji scaring the shit out of me!

The theme of man's ambition is what I found most interesting in Throne of Blood. Throughout the film, Washizu proves the extremes he is willing to go in an effort to reach his goal of being emperor. But, was that his goal before the evil woman in the woods told him it would be so? I would argue, Washizu had very little ambition. This was a content man before the women in his life pushed him to murder, I imagine Washizu would be very happy just leading a group of soldiers on a battlefield, or perhaps having charge over a military fort. He didn't need to be emperor, and yet, he still died as one.

 After 24 hours to think about it, I think the critics had it right these past 50 years. This is a "classic" film, filled withstartling and chilling imagery, thoughtful and patient storytelling, and a rapid, almost hectic editing style rarely seen in a Kurosawa film. This is a film I will buy very soon, if for no other reason than to watch it every time my wife pisses me off... 20 minutes with Lady Asaji will remind quickly how good I have it!






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Reader Comments (1)

Hey, that anyone would even consider watching a 50 year old Asian film - especially one featuring such a completely bizarre looking Asian lady - is impressive. Whether you like it or not is, for the layman (read: stupid & unrefined) really beside the point. Bring on GGGR!

September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaddy

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