World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Throne of Blood

Article Id: WHEBN0000102580
Reproduction Date:

Title: Throne of Blood  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of film director and actor collaborations, List of awards and honors given to Akira Kurosawa, Samurai cinema, Isuzu Yamada, Banquo
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Throne of Blood

Throne of Blood
Original Japanese poster
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Sôjirô Motoki
Akira Kurosawa
Screenplay by Shinobu Hashimoto
Ryûzô Kikushima
Akira Kurosawa
Hideo Oguni
Based on Macbeth 
by William Shakespeare(uncredited)
Starring Toshiro Mifune
Isuzu Yamada
Takashi Shimura
Music by Masaru Sato
Cinematography Asakazu Nakai
Edited by Akira Kurosawa
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • 15 January 1957 (1957-01-15) (Japan)
Running time 110 min
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Throne of Blood (蜘蛛巣城 Kumonosu-jō, literally, "Spider Web Castle") is a 1957 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film transposes the plot of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth to feudal Japan, with stylistic elements drawn from Noh drama.[1]


Generals Miki and Washizu are Samurai commanders under a local lord, Lord Tsuzuki, who reigns in the castle of the Spider's Web Forest. After defeating the lord's enemies in battle, they return to Tsuzuki's castle. On their way through the thick forest surrounding the castle, they meet a spirit, who foretells their future. The spirit tells them that today Washizu will be named master of the North Castle and Miki will now command Fort One. She then foretells that Washizu will eventually become Lord of Forest Castle, and finally she tells Miki that his son will also become lord of the castle.

When the two return to Tsuzuki's estate, he rewards them with exactly what the spirit had predicted. As Washizu discusses this with Asaji, his wife, she manipulates him into making the second part of the prophecy come true by killing Tsuzuki when he visits. Washizu kills him with the help of his wife, who gives drugged sake to the lord's guards, causing them to fall asleep. When Washizu returns in shock at his deed, Asaji grabs the bloody spear and puts it in the hands of one of the three unconscious guards. She then yells "murder" through the courtyard, and Washizu slays the guard before he has a chance to plead his innocence.

Tsuzuki's vengeful son Kunimaru and an advisor to Tsuzuki (and rival of Washizu) named Noriyasu both suspect Washizu as the murderous traitor and try to warn Miki, who refuses to believe what they are saying about his friend. Washizu, though, is unsure of Miki's loyalty, but he wants to trust his friend and he still plans to let Miki's son be his heir, since he and Asaji have been unable to bear a child of their own.

Washizu plans to tell Miki and his son about his decision at a grand banquet, but Asaji tells him that she is pregnant, which leaves him with a quandary concerning his heir, as now Miki's son has to be eliminated. During the banquet Washizu drinks sake copiously because he is clearly agitated, and at the sudden appearance of Miki's ghost, begins losing control. In his delusional panic, he reveals his betrayal to all by exclaiming that he is willing to slay Miki for a second time, going so far as unsheathing his sword and striking over Miki's mat. Asaji, attempting to pick up the pieces of Washizu's blunder, tells the guests that he is drunk and that they must retire for the evening. Then one of his men arrive with the severed head of Miki. The guard also tells them that Miki's son escaped.

Later, distraught upon hearing of his wife's miscarriage and in dire need of help with the impending battle with his foes, he returns to the forest to summon the spirit. She tells him that he will not be defeated unless the very trees of Spider's Web forest rise against the castle. Washizu believes this is impossible and is confident of his victory. Washizu knows he must kill all his enemies, so he tells his troops of the last prophecy, and they share his confidence.

He then finds Asaji in a semi-catatonic state, trying to wash clean the imaginary foul stench of blood from her hands, obviously distraught at her grave misdeeds. Distracted by the sound of his troops moving outside the room, he investigates and is told by a panicked soldier that the trees of Spider's Web forest "have risen to attack us." The prophecy has come true and Washizu is doomed.

As Washizu tries to get his troops to attack, they remain still. Finally they turn on their master and begin firing arrows at to appease Miki's son and Noriyasu. Washizu finally succumbs to his wounds just as his enemies approach the castle gates. It is revealed that the attacking force is using trees cut down during the previous night to disguise and protect themselves in their advance on the castle.

Main cast

Character Equivalent in Macbeth Actor
Taketoki Washizu Macbeth Toshiro Mifune
Lady Asaji Washizu Lady Macbeth Isuzu Yamada
Yoshiaki Miki Banquo Minoru Chiaki
Forest Spirit (Witch) The Three Witches Chieko Naniwa
Lord Kuniharu Tsuzuki King Duncan Takamaru Sasaki
Yoshiteru Fleance Akira Kubo
Kunimaru Malcolm and/or Donalbain Hiroshi Tachikawa
Noriyasu Odagura Macduff Takashi Shimura


The castle exteriors were built and shot high up on Mt. Fuji. The castle courtyard was constructed at Toho's Tamagawa studio, with volcanic soil brought from Fuji so that the ground would match. The interiors were shot in a smaller Tokyo studio. The forest scenes were a combination of actual Fuji forest and studio shots in Tokyo. Washizu's mansion was shot in the Izu peninsula.[2]

In Kurosawa's own words, "It was a very hard film to make. We decided that the main castle set had to be built on the slope of Mount Fuji, not because I wanted to show this mountain but because it has precisely the stunted landscape that I wanted. And it is usually foggy. I had decided that I wanted lots of fog for this film... Making the set was very difficult because we didn't have enough people and the location was so far from Tokyo. Fortunately, there was a U.S. Marine Corps base nearby and they helped a great deal; also a whole MP battalion helped us out. We all worked very hard indeed, clearing the ground, building the set. Our labor on this steep fog-bound slope, I remember, absolutely exhausted us; we almost got sick."[2]

Washizu's famous death scene, in which his own archers turn upon him and fill his body with arrows, was in fact performed with real arrows, a choice made to help Mifune produce realistic facial expressions of fear. The arrows seen to impact the wooden walls were not superimposed or faked by special effects, but instead shot by choreographed archers. During filming, Mifune waved his arms, ostensibly because his character was trying to brush away the arrows embedded in the planks; this indicated to the archers the direction in which Mifune wanted to move.


Toshiro Mifune’s death scene was the source of inspiration for Piper Laurie’s impalement death scene in Carrie. Throne of Blood is also referenced in the anime film Millennium Actress in the form of the Forest Spirit/Witch.

Throne of Blood was adapted for the stage by director Ping Chong. This version premiered at the 2010 Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.


The film has received praise from literary critics, despite the many liberties it takes with the original play. The American literary critic Harold Bloom judged it "the most successful film version of Macbeth."[3] Throne of Blood is reputed to have been a favorite of poet T. S. Eliot.[4]

Popular Mechanics Magazine called Throne of Blood "The most realistic movie ever made",due to the fact that real arrows were fired at the actor Toshiro Mifune in the films final sequence.

Throne of Blood currently holds a 98% "Certified Fresh" Rating on the review aggregator website "Rotten Tomatoes".


  1. ^ Stephen Prince, The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa (Princeton University Press, 1991),142-147.
  2. ^ a b Donald Richie. "Kurosawa on Kurosawa." Sight and Sound, Spring-Summer and Fall-Winter, 1964.
  3. ^ Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York: 1999. ISBN 1-57322-751-X, p. 519.
  4. ^ Derek Malcolm. Akira Kurosawa: Throne of Blood. March 4, 1999. November 19, 2008

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.