In Akira Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood,” Toshiro Mifune plays a war-hardened general who, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider’s Web Castle.

As part of its Anniversary Classics Abroad series — a monthly screening of a classic foreign-language film — Laemmle Theatres will present Akira Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” (1957) on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. at the following locations:

Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.

Glendale, 207 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale

Newhall, 22500 Lyons Ave., Santa Clarita

The Japanese auteur was always an admirer of Shakespeare. His film “Ran” (1985) offered a variation on “King Lear.”

For many years Kurosawa dreamed of adapting “Macbeth,” and he put the film together in 1957, with his favorite actor, Toshiro Mifune, starring as the ambitious, murderous leader. Isuzu Yamada co-stars as the Lady Macbeth character, with Takashi Shimura as the equivalent of Shakespeare’s Macduff.

Kurosawa wrote the screenplay with Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Ryuzo Kikushima. They transposed the story from medieval Scotland to feudal Japan and Kurosawa came up with striking visual concepts to revitalize the classic story. The castle exteriors were filmed on the slopes of Mount Fuji and the memorable climax — with a massive array of arrows aimed at the deranged protagonist — remains one of the greatest images in any Kurosawa movie.

Writing of this climactic scene, The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane declared, “No stage production could match Kurosawa’s Birnam Wood, and, in his final framing of the hero — a human hedgehog, stuck with arrows -— he conjures a tragedy not laden with grandeur but pierced, like a dream, by the absurd.”

British critic Derek Malcolm of The Guardian acclaimed “Throne of Blood” as “a landmark of visual strength… possibly the finest Shakespearean adaptation ever committed to the screen.”

On its original American release, Time magazine praised the film as “a visual descent into the hell of greed and superstition.” In his four-star review, Leonard Maltin called the film a “graphic, powerful adaptation of ‘Macbeth’ in a samurai setting.”

It was not simply film critics who endorsed the film. Renowned literary critic Harold Bloom said that “Throne of Blood” was “the most successful film version of Macbeth.”

For more information, call (310) 478-3836 or visit

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *