Throne of Blood (1957) – Akira Kurosawa

The next recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of Kurosawa’s Ran is another classic film from the legendary director, Throne of Blood.

Toshiro Mifune, Akira Kubo and Isuzu Yamada star in this action-fantasy-drama. Mifune stars as Taketoki Washizo, while Kubo stars as his childhood friend, and fellow warrior, Yoshiteru Miki.

The pair find themselves lost in the Spiders’ Web Forest, where they come across a strange spirit that predicts their future, and sends Washizo on a doomed journey of self-fulfilling prophecy of murder, and power.

Learning from the seer that Washizo is going to be the ruler of the Spiders’ Web Castle, while Miki is going to be the ruler of the First Fortress. Under the manipulation of his wife, Asaji (Yamada), Washizo is guided into action, dooming himself and his family.

Kurosawa creates a great film, filled with atmosphere, following the developing madness of Wahizo as he deals with the events that his own pride and ambition have pushed him to. Asaji guides and manipulates her husband every step of the way, committing terrible crimes and driving a permanent wedge between the two friends.

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As their friendship crumbles the two men find themselves at odds, that will ruin them both and leave Miki’s son in charge of the fought over Spiders’ Web Fortress, if there is anything left to claim.

I quite like how the film is crafted, and it marries the supernatural events surrounding the seer with the terror and the murder that springs from its predictions with ease. The film looks great, masterfully crafted, and I love the costume design.

Mifune excels in his role, and it’s easy to see why he was such a favourite actor of both Kurosawa and the countless directors he’s worked with over the years. The exploitation of his characters ambition, both by his wife, and his own self, makes him a partially tragic character, but the prophecy only comes true because he allows himself to be manipulated. If had chosen to stand by his original decisions, each and every time, his fate may not have been so doomed.

This was yet another classic film that I hadn’t heard of until I dove into this book, and was completely wowed by the film, its story, and the way it was produced. Kurosawa’s use of locations, the beautiful minimalist style of Japanese culture, and the fantastic turns of his actors make this something exceptional to watch.

I’ve always been a fan of Mifune, and loved seeing him in films I didn’t know about. These last few entries on the blog have introduced me to lots of amazing films that were long overdue to be watched.

Seven Samurai will always be my favourite, but there are some amazing films in his oeuvre that are well worth the watch, and this one is definitely one of them.

Lets see what comes next…

mifunethorne

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