Throne of Blood (蜘蛛巣城)

"Throne of Blood" is a film released in 1957 by Toho.


It is a film that replaces "Macbeth," a William Shakespeare's play into the Sengoku period (period of warring states) in Japan. Although it is an adaptation, it is widely known as a film that reproduces the atmosphere of the original work most precisely.

Story line

It was the Sengoku period. Kuniharu TSUZUKI, the lord of Kumonosu-jo Castle (Spider web Castle) was betrayed by Fujimaki, the lord of Kita no Tachi (North Castle), which made him decide to confine himself to the castle. Meanwhile, he was reported that the situation reversed due to the good work of Taketoki WASHIZU and Yoshiaki MIKI. Taketoki and Yoshiaki got lost in 'Kumode no Mori' (Spider hand Forest), when they hurried themselves in a storm, called by Kuniharu. There they met a strange old woman, who told them that Taketoki would become the lord of Kita no Tachi and later that of Kumonosu-jo Castle, and that Yoshiaki would become the general of the First Fort, and his son would be later the lord of Kumonosu-jo Castle. As she predicted, Taketoki was assigned as the lord of Kita no Tachi, and Yoshiaki as the general of the First Fort by Kuniharu.

When Taketoki's wife Asaji heard everything from him, she told Taketoki that Kuniharu would definitely kill him threatening the position of the lord if Kuniharu was to know the prediction of the old woman, and she encouraged Taketoki to kill Kuniharu before being killed, which made his heart waver. Just then, Kuniharu came to Kita no Tachi to attack Inui in a neighboring country with an army. On that night, Asaji made guard soldiers put to sleep with a sleeping drug in a drink. Taketoki, who made his decision, pierced Kuniharu with a spear. A vassal Noriyasu ODAGURA, who was suspected, fled to a mountain together with Kunimaru, Kuniharu's heir.

Taketoki became the lord of Kumonosu-jo Castle formally, and he tried to adopt Yoshiteru, Yoshiaki's heir because he had no child.
However, Asaji complained, 'we did not kill the lord for Miki's son.'
Furthermore, Asaji told Taketoki that she was pregnant, and he sent an assassin to kill Yoshiaki and his son. During a party, Taketoki became upset when he had a vision of Yoshiaki in a white shroud. After the party was spoiled and all the guests left, the assassin came back to Taketoki and told him that he killed Yoshiaki but let Yoshiteru get away. Taketoki, being angry, killed the assassin on the spot.

On a stormy night, Asaji delivered a dead baby and became seriously ill. Then a messenger informed that the troops of Inui led by Noriyasu having Kunimaru and Yoshiteru crossed the border and besieged the First and the Second Fort. Taketoki, frustrated with the commanders who lost their spirit and had no plan, remembered the old woman in the forest when roaring thunders called it back, and rode to Kumode no Mori alone.
The old woman appeared to predict, 'Taketoki will not lose the battle unless Kumode no Mori moves.'

Taketoki told about the prediction of the old woman to the officers and soldiers, who were still disturbed, to boost their morale. On the night, sound of an ax echoed from the forest, and then a flock of wild birds flew into the castle. Dawn succeeded the night in an eerie atmosphere, and the maids were bewildered by Asaji who became insane. Soldiers were confused about the movement of the Kumode no Mori. Hundreds of arrows were shot at Taketoki, yelling to get back to the position, by his own men who gave up on him. An arrow hit the neck of Taketoki running around.

In the forest which seemed to be moving, the troops of Noriyasu were cutting trees in the forest to use them as shields while advancing.

Award record

1957 Lisbon Film Festival, Special award
The 1st London Film Festival, The most original and imaginative film
The 8th Blue Ribbon Awards (Film), The 7th
The 8th Blue Ribbon Awards, Technology (Art) award: Yoshiro MURAKI
The 1st Japanese Film Technology Awards, Art award: Yoshiro MURAKI
Awards for Art: Isuzu YAMADA
The 12th Mainichi Film Awards, Best actor: Toshiro MIFUNE
The 12th Mainichi Film Awards, Best art direction: Yoshiro MURAKI
1957 'Kinema Junpo,' The 4th
1957 'Kinema Junpo,' Best actress: Isuzu YAMADA
1974 Los Angeles International Film Award

Episodes about shooting

The last scene, where Taketoki played by Mifune was shot one arrow after another, was not a special effect, but a real action in which a specialist of Toshiya (long-range archery) of Sanjusangendo Temple really shot arrows at Mifune.
Actually, after finishing the shooting, Mifune shouted at Kurosawa, 'You kill me!?'
Even later, when he had a drink at home, he thought back over the scene, and he became gradually angry at Kurosawa, who forced too dangerous shooting on him.
Under the influence of drink, he went to Kurosawa's house with a shot gun, and shouted in front of the house, 'Hey! Come out!'
According to Koji ISHIZAKA, this episode has been handed down in Toho as a legend.

It is said that Mifune often said, 'Kurosawa, the bastard, I will kill him with a bazooka!'

[Original Japanese]