Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Original title: Kumonosu-Joo
Japan, 1957. Toho Company, Kurosawa Production Co.. Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima, based on the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Asakazu Nakai. Produced by Akira Kurosawa, Sojiro Motoki. Music by Masaru Sato. Production Design by Yoshiro Muraki. Costume Design by Taiki Mori.
Akira Kurosawa adapts Shakespeare’s Macbeth with stunning results. Toshirô Mifune is at his most grandly theatrical as a great warrior who is told by a prophet that he will one day be ruler of the castle he serves. His darkly scrupulous wife, believing the prophecy to be a dangerous one if made too public, insists that he strike first and kill the master of his domain and thus ensure his own victory. Mifune’s throne won in bloodshed, however, leads to further trouble when a tyrannical reign of suspicion and murder eventually catches up with him. Strangely short for a Kurosawa film at less than two hours, the film makes up in epic style and imagery what it lacks in length; one would expect the master to stretch it out like Seven Samurai or his later Ran, adaptated from King Lear). Style, substance and elegantly filmed violence are all at a zenith here.