Throne of Blood

Yes, it’s Macbeth, so we know how the story turns out. Yes, it’s 52 years old. And yes, it’s a black-and-white samurai movie. But I will always retain my love for Throne of Blood, which this week begins a series of four Akira Kurosawa classics (through March 12). The great Toshiro Mifune plays the usurper in medieval Japan; Isuzu Yamada is the wife who goads him to murder and madness. Naturalism isn’t the point to their performances, which range from Noh theater gestures to boisterous physicality. A malign wood spirit whispers destiny in Mifune’s ear, and all his good sense pours out the other. “Men’s lives are as meaningless as the lives of insects,” declares the freaky albino soothsayer. Throne shows how the marching, screaming, banner-waving soldiers—with Mifune leading them into carnage—ultimately resort to a kind of mindless, swarming insect behavior. And all for what—a remote wooden castle in the middle of a miserable, misty, wind-whipped forest? Says Yamada, “Ambition makes a man.” And it destroys him, too. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Feb. 13-19, 7 & 9 p.m., 2009

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