This week in Seattle, Washington, the Grand Illusion Cinema screens a towering portrait of political treachery, Akira Kurosawa’s 1957 Throne of Blood. Transposing Macbeth to medieval Japan, this Shakespearean masterpiece gives Toshiro Mifune one of the most intense roles of his career in the form of a warrior who leaves a bloody trail behind him as he ascends to power. Widely acclaimed for its visually astonishing interpretation of the Bard, this film is ultimately “much more than a direct cinematic translation of a literary text,” as scholar Stephen Prince notes in his essay for our release. In confronting his native country’s own history of violence through the lens of Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy, Kurosawa integrates traditional elements of Noh performance and sumi-e compositional style, crafting “a brilliant synthesis of diverse cultural, aesthetic, and historical sources.”
Kurosawa fans in Seattle can catch Throne of Blood on 35 mm tomorrow and Tuesday night. For a closer look at the film’s production history, watch this excerpt from a supplement on our edition, in which set decorator and prop master Koichi Hamamura explains how he helped to create the film’s legendary, arrow-studded climax.