Made after Rashomon and The Seven Samurai, Throne Of Blood saw writer-director Akira Kurosawa transpose Shakespeare's Macbeth to feudal, war-torn Japan. The result is a powerfully imaginative adaptation which strips away the Bard's introspective soliloquies, instead fusing imagery and sound to convey an atmosphere of doom and fury.
The wild-eyed Toshiro Mifune plays the Macbeth figure of Washizu, who's visited by an evil witch in the forest. She predicts that the samurai will become Lord of Cobweb Castle, but that his reign will be brief and bloody.
Urged on by his treacherous wife Lady Asaji (Isuzu Yamada), Washizu begins to eliminate his opponents.
Influenced by the Japanese Noh theatre tradition - hence the stylised performances and the stage-like interiors - Kurosawa keeps us distanced, both aesthetically and emotionally, from his characters. Superbly shot in high-contrast black and white, Throne Of Blood captures the spirit of Shakespeare's writing, as the driving rain, swirling fog and screeching animals lend metaphorical weight to this tale of murderous human ambition.