Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jō) is Japanese feature film that was released in 1957. It was directed by Akira Kurosawa, a well known director of the time period. It has been said that Throne of Blood was one of his best works. Kurosawa was also responsible for well-respect movies such as Yojimbo, Red Beard and his last movie, Madadayo, also titled Not Yet. Throne of Blood is also sometimes referred to as Spider Web Castle. Kurosawa, a huge fan of Japanese musical dramas, used that as his influence to bring Shakespeare’s famous story of Macbeth into the medieval ages of Japan.
Throne of Blood follows Shakespeare’s story fairly closely, but does have a few interesting twists. The movie starts out when a group of messengers bring the message to their leader that there has been an invasion at the North Castle. The forces that invaded the castle were led by the evil samurai named Inui. The leader sends out forces, led by two samurai named Washizu and Miki, who manage to stop the invasion. As they head back to tell their leader of their good fortune and the successful mission, they see a figure in the woods. Unsure of what it is they explore further to find that it is a ghost. The ghost tells them of the future. He predicts leadership positions that will be granted to them in the immediate future and in exact detail.
The two are granted leadership roles. Miki is granted the leadership over Fort One and Washizu is granted the leadership of the North Castle. It is exactly as the ghost had predicted. The ghost has also said that it is Miki’s son that will rule North Castle after Washizu is dead, and this causes some serious problems between Miki and Washizu. The two keep their meeting with the ghostly spirit a secret, worried that the townspeople will believe that Washizu will want to kill Miki’s son, Yoshiteru. Asaji, Washizu’s wife, gets enraged when Washizu decides to name Yoshiteru his heir in an effort to stop any gossip before it starts. She swears to him that she is pregnant with his heir and tells him that he must kill Miki so that he can rule both North Castle and Fort One. Washizu does as his wife tells him to and enrages the leaders of the other castles. They turn against him and want him dead. In the end, Washizu is killed by his own military forces. His own army has lost their faith in him to the point that they kill him in a flurry of arrows.
In the final scene, Washizu’s army kills him with a barrage of arrows. Kurosawa decided that, instead of using fake arrows, he would use real arrows and real archers. In the movie, whenever an arrow hits a plank, it is real, which is why the actor who plays Washizu can show so much fear on his face for the scene, because he was really frightened.