The Things We Do For Art

Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, a samurai-themed, Noh-tinged re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, has always fascinated me. It’s not a particularly faithful adaptation, in my opinion. But it might be a great one. (Harold Bloom once famously said that it was “uncannily the most successful film version of Macbeth, though it departs very far from the specifics of Shakespeare’s play.” And I’m tempted to agree.)

Whatever its status as an adaptation might be, it does feature an unforgettable finale (SPOILERS!): “Toshiro Mifune’s ruthless warrior, modeled on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, finally gets his comeuppance in the form of a shower of arrows. Some narrowly miss him, others, well, do not.”

That’s a bit understated. So, here:

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Intense, no? The look on Mifune’s face is amazing. And now, thanks to The Criterion Collection, I realize that this scene is even more awesome than I’d initially realized. And I also realize why Mifune’s fear is so palpable:

Those aren’t fake arrows.

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Great stuff. So’s the film. But don’t take my word for it. Head on over to Hulu to see for yourself. (If you’ve got Plus). While you’re at it, go ahead and take a look at the rest of the Criterion features, which are as worthwhile as ever. (And if you like it, you’ve got Ran waiting in the wings. Fantastic.)

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.

  • bharper8

    No, it isn’t faithful to Shakespeare in the literal sense, but psychologically it is his equal, maybe even more (can I actually have said that?) And Mifune ! What can one say? One of the very greatest.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/summathissummathat Joseph Susanka

      Yes, Bob. You actually said that. (And I won’t argue with you, either.)

      I find the witch/medium sequence terrifyingly memorable, as well. (Again, literally faithful? Not really. But psychologically? Yep.)


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