Shakespeare's Macbeth and Kurosawa's Throne of Blood

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Throne of Blood, the 1957 filmed translation of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, was made in Japan, written in Japanese by Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima, Akira Kurosowa and Hideo Oguni and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It has many times been called an adaptation of Macbeth, however it is not. As storytellers have done since time began, Kurosawa took a story and made it his own: translating a play text into another medium; a separate setting; a differing culture in a completely different style and for a completely contrasting audience.

The film wasn't even intended to be an adaptation of Macbeth. When composing Throne of Blood, the writing team involved did not even consult Shakespeare's script, as Stuart Galbraith details in his book, The Emperor and the wolf.

Kurosawa and co-writers Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Ryuzo Kikushima didn't bother to bring copies of Macbeth with them to the ryokan when they began writing the film in early 1956. "We had already read Macbeth when we were young," Hashimoto said, "so we didn't refer to it...when we wrote the script."

Although Shakespeare's script was not followed when writing Throne of Blood, it is amazing how closely the main story line of the plot is so similar to that of Macbeth, Anthony Davies comments on the similarities of plot line between the two: `the dramatic rise and fall in Throne of Blood bears a remarkably close relationship with the dynamics of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Dramatic peaks in the play are consistently reflected in the film.' It is with a very deep understanding of Macbeth's plot and attributes as a powerful work of dramatic literature that Kurosawa and his team of writers translated its story into a cinematic piece that captured no...

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...rone of Blood' in Filming Shakespeare's plays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). pp. 143-166

Stuart Galbraith, The Emperor and the Wolf (New York: Faber and Faber, 2002).

James Goodwin, `Tragedy without Heroes' in Akira Kurosawa and Intertextual Cinema (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1994), pp. 165-216

Akira Kurosawa, `Throne of Blood', trans. By Hisae Niki, in Seven Samurai and Other Screenplays (London: Faber and Faber, 1992), pp. 227-266 (p. 253).

Web sites

Sir Thomas Elyot, The Book of the Governor, (1531), in

Sri Swami Sivananda, Shintoism, at

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