FILM@JCSM stands for “Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning through Movies.” This semester’s selections are programmed in conjunction with Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido.
You can see “Throne of Blood” on Thursday, December 3 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free, advance ticket reservation is encouraged. Reserve your tickets.
About the Film
Written by John Gulledge, program assistant
Premiering in Japan on January 15, 1957, “Throne of Blood” is writer-director Akira Kurosawa’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In keeping with the Bard’s exploration of human nature, the film follows Taketoki Washizu (Toshirô Mifune) as he wrestles with ambition and greed, murdering his way to the top. Set against the backdrop of sixteenth-century feudal Japan, the movie harkens back to the highly stylized performances of Noh, a historical genre of theatre that originated some time in the fourteenth century. Noh performances rely heavily on body language and facial expression, and Kurosawa uses this play-form to create the eerie, strange, and at times absurd atmosphere that characterizes Macbeth.
“Throne of Blood” takes the thriller and horror elements of its source and runs with them, creating a visually striking story with an even darker mood and tone. The high-contrast black and white cinematography is echoed in the film’s characters and setting: Taketoki is the hot-headed and aggressive foil to Asaji (Isuzu Yamada), his Lady Macbeth, who is presented as distanced and cold; the quiet and claustrophobic interior of Cobweb Castle is propped against the battlefield full of blood and rage; the shift between deathly stillness and explosions of violent action; to the absolute and pervasive fog that characterizes unyielding fate. In the end, Kurosawa gives us the bloody conclusion we expect, and the final image of the usurping Taketoki is visually ravishing as he clings on not to life, as one might think, but to a promise and prophecy of glory – what Macbeth calls, “my black and deep desires.”