Throne of Blood (1957)
"Kumonosu-jô" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  22 November 1961 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 27,909 users  
Reviews: 112 user | 117 critic

A war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider's Web Castle.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Top Rated Movies #221 | 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Sanjuro (1962)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A crafty samurai helps a young man and his fellow clansmen save his uncle, who has been framed and imprisoned by a corrupt superintendent.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Lured by gold, two greedy peasants escort a man and woman across enemy lines. However, they do not realize that their companions are actually a princess and her general.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki
Yojimbo (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno, Tatsuya Nakadai
Ran (1985)
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An elderly lord abdicates to his three sons, and the two corrupt ones turn against him.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu
Ikiru (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin'ichi Himori
Rashomon (1950)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori
High and Low (1963)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yutaka Sada, Tatsuya Nakadai
Kagemusha (1980)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A petty thief with an utter resemblance to a samurai warlord is hired as the lord's double. When the warlord later dies the thief is forced to take up arms in his place.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara
Red Beard (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

In 19th century Japan, a rough tempered yet charitable town doctor trains a young intern.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yûzô Kayama, Tsutomu Yamazaki
Seven Samurai (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima
Le Samouraï (1967)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

After killing a night-club owner, professional hitman Jef Costello is seen by witnesses. His efforts to provide himself with an alibi fail and more and more he gets driven into a corner.

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Stars: Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon, François Périer
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case?

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara


Cast overview, first billed only:
Isuzu Yamada ...
Akira Kubo ...
Hiroshi Tachikawa ...
Kunimaru Tsuzuki (as Yôichi Tachikawa)
Minoru Chiaki ...
Takamaru Sasaki ...
Kuniharu Tsuzuki
Gen Shimizu
Kokuten Kôdô ...
Military Commander
Kichijirô Ueda ...
Washizu's workman
Eiko Miyoshi ...
Old Woman at castle
Chieko Naniwa ...
Nakajirô Tomita ...
Second Military Commander
Yû Fujiki ...
Washizu samurai
Sachio Sakai ...
Washizu samurai


After securing a major victory on the battlefield, Taketoti Washizu and one of his commanders, Yoshiaki Miki, find themselves lost in the maze-like Spider's Web forest. They come across a spirit-like seer who tells them of their future: both have been promoted because of their victory that day; Washizu will someday be the Great Lord of the Spider's Web castle while Miki's son will someday rule as Great Lord as well. When they arrive at the castle, they learn that the first part of the prophecy is correct. Washizu has no desire to become Great Lord but his ambitious wife urges him to reconsider. When the current Great Lord makes a surprise visit to his garrison outpost, Washizu is again promoted to commander of his vanguard but his wife reminds him of the danger that comes with the position. As pressure mounts, Wahizu takes action leading to its inevitable conclusion. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 November 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Throne of Blood  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)| (Perspecta Sound encoding)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Three great Shigenki theater actors had begged Akira Kurosawa for roles in the film. The director obliged and Isao Kimura, Seiji Miyaguchi and Nobuo Nakamura appear as samurai ghosts in the second scene featuring the witch. See more »


When the witch runs in the forest she can briefly be seen wearing sneakers. See more »


Lady Asaji Washizu: I am... with child.
See more »


Version of Macbeth (1954) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"Every Samurai Longs To Be Master Of A Castle"
5 August 2000 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Washizu is a brave samurai who helps his lord to fight off a violent rebellion. Washizu and his friend Miki are riding through Cobweb Forest when a spirit appears to them and makes predictions which fire their ambitions. When Washizu explains this vision to his wife Asaji, she urges him to murder his lord and rule in his stead. Thus the tragedy begins.

Kurosawa's interpretation of Macbeth is visually fascinating. Swirling mist, colossal trees dripping with rain, rich black volcanic soil and bulky fortress architecture provide the imposing, dread-laden backdrop against which the humans move in superbly stylized patterns. The director chose to shoot the action on Mount Fuji precisely because of the volcanic soil - and even had truckloads brought to the studio for pickup shots.

Westerners unfamiliar with Noh are missing a huge part of the film's meaning. This thousand-year-old theatrical tradition corresponds broadly to our Elizabethan Tragedy, and Kurosawa shows how the two cultural strains, eastern and western, interlock and interact. The one illumines the other.

The Noh stage must have on it three pine branches and a symbolic Shinto temple-arch. In the film, shots are carefully composed to include tangles of branches in the foreground, and the vast entrance gate of Washizu's fortress serves for the temple arch. And yet Kurosawa is not including these details redundantly, for mere form's sake - the ubiquitous branches, framing the human action, remind us all the time of the forest nemesis awaiting Washizu. The arch is Washizu's interface with the world - open in the early stages, but gradually less so as the protagonist retreats into his own diseased inner self.

A Noh play features a "doer" (Shite) and a "companion" (Waku) who plays a subordinate role. Washizu and Asaji are the Shite and Waku respectively. Elements in the Noh include a battle-drama (we get one here) and a so-called "wig drama", in which a female character dominates the action. This is the central portion of the film, in the quiet of the fortress quarters, when Asaji ruthlessly manipulates her husband's ambition. Every Noh play has a ghost which appears to the Shite, and the spirit in the forest fulfils that function. Noh plays are never original works, in that (by a venerable convention) they are re-workings of ancient legends. Kurosawa follows tradition by quarrying his tale from Shakespeare's play.

There is no western term to describe the stylized striking of poses so important in Noh. Our word "dance" is a crude word which approximates to, but does not convey, the grace of the Japanese art-form. Asaji, alone with the blood-stain, gives us a glimpse of this delightful ritual.

Finally, Noh contains an aural richness almost totally absent from western tragedy - the complex rhythms of stamping and percussion which accompany the spoken word. In the film, the rhythmic patterns of horses' hooves on soil, and Washizu's bare feet on the boards of the banquet hall, are meant to reinforce the mood as they creep into our emotions by subliminal insistence.

Isuzu Yamada is terrific as Asaji. Her stillness absolutely oozes determination, contrasting strongly with her husband's hollow bluster.

It seems that Kurosawa cherished the concept of a Noh Macbeth for some years before committing it to celluloid. Apparently the project had to be scrapped in 1952 because Welles' Macbeth was nearing completion, and Kurosawa did not want the two films to suffer by being endlessly compared. This version, then, had to wait until 1957 to be realised.

The director is not afraid to add his own flourishes to the well-known story. We hear of the notorious traitor Fujimaki who disembowelled himself in a room of the fortress. The exact spot is now known as the Forbidden Room, a place of evil omen with its indelible bloodstain on the floor. It is a symbol which encapsulates the spirit of the film, interweaving the related themes of treachery, blood and guilt. In a brilliant transition, we are taken to a change of scene by the ripping down of a banner by galloping horsemen. Washizu at the pinnacle of his arrogance is filmed from below with severe foreshortening, conveying his vainglory more effectively than words ever could. The death scene, with its railing, hysterical protagonist and relentless volleys of arrows (their grouped shafts recalling the fateful forest) has enormous power and lives long in the viewer's memory.

91 of 98 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Is this movie going to be in the top 250? xboxfreak666
anybody else feel like me...? metalmind19
IMDB Top 250 titan5477
Top Kurosawa films thl2k1
Is this movie worth watching nowadays? suggi713
Most frightening witch---EVER. Ike-12
Discuss Throne of Blood (1957) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: