Kumonosu-jô

I felt the effect of Daylight Saving Time, as I was tired all during my day of work. I returned home and watched a bit of John Byner on the Tonight Show and then went out for a slice of pizza. I sat down and watched Akira Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood.” Although the movie was on Blu-ray, I wouldn’t say that this was the most impressive of Criterion Collection discs. The quality of the print could have been better. Foreign film fans know that this is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” and I’ve always thought that it was a very good adaptation. You can see elements of Kurosawa’s style in the film. The opening was reminiscent of “Ran,” or maybe I should say that it was the other way around. The scene did make me appreciate again how good “Ran” was in its color. “Throne of Blood” was released in 1957, and the Roman Polanski Macbeth film was released in 1971. I thought that the Kurosawa version had a charge to it, and I’ll always remember the ending. The Polanski version has faded from my memory quite a bit, even though I saw it not too long ago. I think that I find arrows more frightening than swords. Arrows are like stealthy missiles. You can see the range of a sword right in front of you. Kurosawa did tricks with the arrows so that they wouldn’t kill Toshiro Mifune. Wires are visible. Kurosawa and Mifune did sixteen films together. I thought the best of those films was “Seven Samurai,” although “The Hidden Fortress,” “Sanjuro,” and “Red Beard” also made strong impressions on me. It’s remarkable that Kurosawa could adapt Shakespeare and produce such good films. When other filmmakers change the elements around, like putting the plays into a modern setting, the results usually aren’t too good. What made Kurosawa so great was that he was conscious of the audience. I would put “Throne of Blood” on my Top 10 list of Shakespeare adaptations. I would like to watch it a few more times in the coming years. I should note that the Japanese title translates to “Spider Web Castle.” Perhaps the title was changed so as not to give the impression that it was a horror film. Kurosawa made quite a few movies that were very good between 1957 and 1985. He would suffer an accident in 1995 that would cause his health to deteriorate until his death in 1998. We haven’t seen many directors as great as Kurosawa was. I was glad that I saw “Ran” during its original release. Some of the people who died on March 17 include Luchino Visconti (1976), Helen Hayes (1993), and Alex Chilton (2010). Today is a birthday for Gary Sinise (61), Kurt Russell (65), and Patrick Duffy (67). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 17, the Disney movie “The Barefoot Executive,” featuring Kurt Russell, Joe Flynn, Wally Cox, Harry Morgan, and John Ritter, was released in 1971. In 1992, Grace Stafford, who was the voice of Woody Woodpecker from 1950 to 1990, died of spinal cancer at age 88. In 2008, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were divorced. In 2010, Alex Chilton died of a heart attack at age 59.

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