Call me morbid, but MacBeth is my favorite Shakespeare. Having just hit the 400th anniversary of his death, it seems appropriate to celebrate one of his most death-obsessed pieces of work, here with the bold reinterpretation done by Akira Kurosawa in Throne of Blood.
Kurosawa folds in elements of Noh theatre to a streamlined, brisk version of Shakespeare’s text, creating perhaps the stagiest adaptation of the Bard this side of Baz Luhrman. The Noh angle creates a more archetypal experience for the actors and the audience, somehow getting to the root of the original text in a way that more naturalistic adaptations by Roman Polanski and Justin Kurzel have missed. This “Scottish” king and his Lady M (Taketoki and Lady Asaji) are physical embodiments of their fury and calculations, the contrast between his brazen madness and her anxious guilt never more clearly defined on film.