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Throne of Blood (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on February 1, 2010

I was surprised to find myself not liking this as much as I thought I did.  It’s one of the weakest of Kurosawa’s Western literary adaptations, and certainly the weakest of his stabs at Shakespeare.  I find the Noh influence to be very uninteresting here, except insofar as you can say “Yep, that’s some Noh influence.”  Mifune is at his best when he has a casual or comic side to his character.  Yes, he’s really good at being intense, but the one-note Noh-style performance gets tedious.  There are certainly a fair share of wonderful, memorable scenes (the meetings with the spirit, the murder scene, the birds, the ending) and yet the other scenes seem to just hang there.  It’s not paced especially well, at least not for a Kurosawa film.  Before I start sounding too much like a Grumpy Gus, though, it’s still a good movie.  Its exploration of ambition and treachery are powerful, and I find it interesting to meditate on the theme of free will.  Could Washizu have told Asaji to fuck off, do things the honorable way, and still fulfill the prophecy?  Or was he doomed from the start to go along with his wife?  And if he’d made a different decision, would that have changed the spirit’s second prophecy?  I don’t believe in destiny (or forest spirits, for that matter) but it’s intriguing to ponder in the context of the story.  Rating: 7


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