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Throne of Blood (Kurusawa)


The long awaited Criterion DVD of Akira Kurusawa's Throne of Blood has finally been released. I don't have the dough to scrap for this yet (which is killing me!), but I just wanted to let folks know.

Kurusawa, probably the most popular Japanese director in the Western world is famous for such masterpieces as The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, and Yojimbo. These films, as well as Hidden Fortress, Sanjuro, High and Low, and Red Beard have been released by Criterion with stunning video transfers and some with excellent commentary. All are period or samurai pieces except High and Low.

Throne of Blood is a samurai period adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. It is the first Kurusawa I saw- a long time ago, and I didn't know what the hell I was watching, but I was interested. Only years later did I finally watch Rashomon and Seven Samurai and have been a fan and admirer of Kurusawa since.

I'm dying to pick this DVD up. Criterion has also mentioned plans to do other Kurusawa films.
Once again, I have to say that you have very good taste. It's really a shame that most Americans have no idea who Kurosawa is...especially the ones who love such Westerns as The Magnificent Seven, Fistful of Dollars... etc. While I love all those Westerns, they can't hold a candle to the original material.

I guess we could both go on for days about how Kurosawa transformed the entire medium, but it wouldn't do him or his movies the justice they so richly deserve.

As for me, I started my Kurosawa collection last month by buying Seven Samuri and Rashomon.. both of which I love dearly, but my favorite Kurosawa movie of all time, oddly enough, is the sequel to Yojimbo -- Sanjuro.
Sanjuro is great. Ah, those foolish students.

Being a huge Clint Eastwood fan, I actually like A Fistful of Dollars as much as Yojimbo. Maybe it's not as great cinematically, but it's just so much fun.

I should be ordering Throne of Blood tomorrow.

There are rumours of Criterion wanting to redo the transfer for Seven Samurai. Since it's only the 2nd DVD they made, the picture quality can be improved. Although there's nothing wrong with the current DVD, the B&W titles Criterion are releasing now are stunning. I can't wait to see ToB.
You would have loved it here a few months back. One of the local theaters in Minneapolis was doing a Kurosawa/Mifune tribute by showing every film they worked together on. Unfortunately, my time constraints are such that I couldn't get to see any of them.
I am a great fan of Akira K. as well, and Sanjuro is my favorite film of his too. I wouldn't argue that it is his best, but it is my favorite, and I have many Criterion LDs of Kurosawa, including Sanjuro, Seven Samurai, Red Beard and others. I think Throne Of Blood is the best Shakespere adaptation ever done. The witches, and the 'porcupine' scene at the end... WOW. If I could vote for their next Kurosawa release it would be Dersu Uzala, a wonderful film that has never been released in good condition.
Juche, they had a mini-marathon of Kurusawa films in Boston right before I moved from there a few months ago. I only had time to see Seven Samurai there, but it was cool.

For best Shakespeare adaptation ever, I would pick Kenneth Branaugh's Hamlet. As much as I know I'll love Throne of Blood, I will still consider it an interesting take on the story, but it ain't really Shakespeare without the dialogue. Branaugh is by far my favorite Shakespeare-to-film man (yes, even more than Olivier), and Hamlet is my favorite play. Unfortunately, there are still no plans to release this on DVD. :mad: It is my most desired DVD title (yes, even more than Star Wars).

I ordered Throne of Blood last night... :)

... as well as a Fellini film and a Bergman film. I'm on a big Bergman kick right now. Watched Cries and Whispers last night... wow. Extremely powerful stuff. I was all awake after that, spinning the images around in my head and couldn't get to sleep.
I wonder if my local video rental place has some of these. I am curious, but not willing to buy them on DVD to see if they are any good.

Netflix just does not make sense for me when I watch maybe one rented DVD a month or less.
So, GKE, what Fellini film did you order? My favorite is Juliet of the Spirits. Most people think 8 1/2 is his best, but somehow I think Satyricon might appeal to you... :D ;) :D
Hamlet was pretty good. Personally, I liked Henry V better, but to each their own. A few of the casting choices in Hamlet seemed odd. Well, ok, just one. Jack Lemon seemed so out of place there it just wasn't funny. The best way I can describe it is that he just looked out of place.

Then there's Richard Attenborough. Probably the biggest actor in the entire movie, and he's on screen for thirty seconds. I think the best performance in that flick was by old Chuck Heston. He was so friggin cool.
hyp, try your local public and college libraries for some of these films. You may have to deal with VHS, but at least it's something.

Jade, I ordered Juliette of the Spirits. So far, it's the one I know least about going in. Other than that, I have seen and own:

The White Sheik- his first film he did himself. Simple, pleasant, and enjoyable.

The Nights of Cabiria- featuring Fellini's real-life wife as a hooker with a heart of gold. This is my favorite so far due to her wonderful, endearing screen presence.

8 1/2- enjoyable, but a bit too sprawling and "artsy" for me to love it as much as some. It's a fascinating film and endlessly enjoyable, but its very subject matter makes it difficult for me to connect with it as much as his other films.
Claudia Cardinale is an angel.

Amarcord- My 2nd favorite so far. I nice set of vignettes and character studies with healthy dose of humor.

Juliette is the film I know least about going in. Should be interesting. After that I'll get And the Ship Sails On and Variety Lights, completing the Criterion collection of Fellini's films.

Believe it or not, I have yet to see his most famous film, La Dolce Vita. I'm quite upset that Criterion hasn't released this one. I don't know if they will or can't or whatever, but it sure would be nice.
I love the Nights of Cabiria too, one of my favorites. I'll bet you"ve seen La Strada at some point too, as it may be better known than La Dolce Vita, though certainly less controversial. I guess you've never seen Satyricon, which makes La D V seem like a church picnic by comparison. I've never seen Clowns. All of his films were restored a few years ago, with new translations and subtitles, so I am sure Criterion will use those, unless they think they can improve on it. I actually saw almost all of them on the big screen at the local historic, revival theater. Some crazy italian involved in the restoration had come up with a system to display the subtitles off the screen, so as not to detract from Fellini's images. It used a sort of very large LED just below the screen that received signals from the film. Interesting idea, but even to a purist like me, it seemed like way more trouble than it was worth.

Enjoy Juliet of the Spirits! You will have to be able to identify with the feelings and fantasy/life of a middle aged woman whose husband is cheating on her, and finds herself feeling sort of out it with her old reality, and opening new ones, with various results. Easier than it sounds, actually.

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