Throne of Blood

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Overview

Criterion produces yet another excellent release of an Akira Kurosawa film with their version of Throne of Blood. The film is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The Japanese soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. It would be accurate to say the film has never looked or sounded better on home video. English subtitles are accessible. Supplemental materials include a commentary by Japanese cinema scholar Michael Jeck, an essay written by an author who has written extensively about ...
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Overview

Criterion produces yet another excellent release of an Akira Kurosawa film with their version of Throne of Blood. The film is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The Japanese soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. It would be accurate to say the film has never looked or sounded better on home video. English subtitles are accessible. Supplemental materials include a commentary by Japanese cinema scholar Michael Jeck, an essay written by an author who has written extensively about Kurosawa, two different versions of the English subtitles and a featurette on the process of creating subtitles, and the original theatrical trailer. This disc will be of great interest to anyone with a love of cinema.
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Special Features

New high-definition digital transfer with restored image and sound; Audio commentary by Japanese film expert Michael Jeck; Original theatrical trailer; New essay by Stephen Prince (writer of "The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa"); Two different subtitle translations, each by a world-renowned translator of Japanese films: one by Linda Hoaglund, the other by Donald Richie; Notes on subtitling by Linda Hoaglund and Donald Richie; Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Tony Nigro
In Throne of Blood, director Akira Kurosawa combines 15th-century samurai history with elements of Noh theater for a brilliant retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The peerless Toshiro Mifune stars as Washizu, a decorated samurai who, along with his warrior friend Miki Akira Kubo, encounters an evil spirit prophesying a change in the royal order -- specifically, Washizu will rule, followed by Miki's son. Despite his efforts to alter fate, Washizu is cajoled by his manipulative wife Isuzu Yamada, in the Lady Macbeth role into taking over the kingdom by force, a bloody act unleashing a brutal chain of events that eventually tears apart the kingdom. Like Kurosawa's Ran, his King Lear film made nearly three decades later, Throne of Blood uses the bare essentials of Shakespeare's drama to enact a grand history lesson on feudal Japan, replete with period costumes, intense melodrama, swarms of flying arrows, and, in this case, lush black-and-white cinematography. Aside from the always-charismatic presence of Mifune, what makes the film special is Kurosawa's integration of techniques based in Japan's traditional Noh theater. The bare sets, expressive soundtrack, and stylized performances enhance the story to a new level above that of play-on-film; the battle scenes are even expressionist in nature. The experience is best described not as a mere Shakespeare adaptation but as a sublime transposition.
All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
One of the most successful Shakespeare adaptations for the screen, Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood strips away Macbeth's minor characters and long soliloquies, turns the witch scenes into a strange supernatural encounter, and transforms the Scottish landscape into a misty visage of feudal Japan. Kurosawa masterfully employs style and composition to create a closed world in which the film's tragic outcome seems pre-ordained. Such visual motifs as fog, wind, and rain, juxtaposed with the austere interior of Washizu's castle, create an eerie, foreboding feel, while Kurosawa's use of stark blacks and whites, coupled with his persistent use of hard edits, seem to place the characters in stylistic confinement. Not unlike Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura (1960), Kurosawa uses repetition, such as the image of Washizu's emerging from the fog, to suggest the futility of the characters' actions. Rarely has a Kurosawa film been rendered with such bleakness. Throne of Blood is a visually brilliant, emotionally powerful masterpiece from one of the true masters of cinema.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/27/2003
  • UPC: 037429175828
  • Original Release: 1957
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: Japanese
  • Time: 1:49:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Toshiro Mifune Taketoki Washizu
Isuzu Yamada Asaji
Minoru Chiaki Yoshaki Miki
Takashi Shimura Noriyasu Odagura
Akira Kubo Yoshiteru
Takamaru Sasaki Kuniharu Tsuzuki
Yoichi Tachikawa Kunimaru
Chieko Naniwa Witch
Technical Credits
Akira Kurosawa Director, Editor, Producer, Screenwriter
Shinobu Hashimoto Screenwriter
Ryuzo Kikushima Screenwriter
Shojiro Motoki Producer
Yoshiro Muraki Art Director
Asakazu Nakai Cinematographer
Asaichi Nakai Cinematographer
Hideo Oguni Screenwriter
Masaru Sato Score Composer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Credits/Chorus [5:16]
2. Captains Washizu & Miki Triumph [4:09]
3. The Forest Maze [3:00]
4. A Prophecy [7:36]
5. Lost [4:49]
6. Prophecy Fulfilled [2:07]
7. Lord Washizu & Lady Asaji [4:52]
8. Ambush? [4:44]
9. Blood of a Traitor [2:46]
10. High Treason [9:18]
11. Intruders [1:07]
12. The Chase [5:57]
13. The Great Lord's Coffin [3:58]
14. An Heir [3:14]
15. Evil Omen [2:44]
16. An Unexpected Guest [2:40]
17. Stillborn [9:33]
18. Seeking Answers [5:21]
19. Rallying the Troops [5:20]
20. The Birds [6:17]
21. Madness [3:00]
22. The Forest Moves [3:11]
23. Chorus [6:54]
1. Color Bars
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Commentary
      Off
      On
      Index
         Noh Style/An Experiment
         Historical Context/Takashi Shimura
         Cut-Pans/Master Horesemen
         Noh Influences/Mifune & Chiaki
         Fog
         180 Degree Flip/Sashimonos
         Structure/Isuzu Yamada
         Adding Motivation/Kurosawa's Women
         Seppuku
         A Parable of Ambition
         The Alarm
         Kurosawa's Usual Style/Real Politic
         Crossing the Line/Miki's Motivation
         No Loose Ends
         Horse Imagery
         Despair/Intentionalist Fallacy
         A Disagreement With Olivier/Writing Credits
         Other Adaptations/"Guest Stars"
         Framing the Army/Yoshiro Muraki
         A Difficult Scene to Shoot
         "First Take"
         The Killing: How He Does It
         The Circle Closes
         Color Bars
   Subtitles
      Hoaglund Subtitles On
      Richie Subtitles On
      Subtitles Off
   Trailer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Creepy

    Throne of Blood reminded me of just how clever Akira Kurosawa was with a camera. From the opening scene with the fog and the castle appearing, or the first scene with the evil spirit in the forest foretelling Washizu's and Miki's futures, Throne of Blood kept me entertained and creeped out more than a lot of modern films. This movie is all about ambience, sounds, and images that won't leave your mind for a long time. I can't think of much else to say. There really isn't anything bad to say about this film, other than Kurosawa really likes to show people being lost or riding horses. But, I can't complain. It all lends to the overall feel of the scene of the film as a whole. <BR/><BR/>One of my favorite of Kurosawa's gems.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 5, 2009

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    Posted July 24, 2010

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    Posted November 26, 2008

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    Posted July 26, 2010

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    Posted December 3, 2010

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