Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kurosawa and Shakespeare

What do I like more than Shakespeare?

Shakespeare with Samurai!

One of the world’s greatest directors, Akira Kurosawa directed a two films based on Shakespeare -- Ran, based on King Lear, and Throne of Blood, based on Macbeth.

Ran is one of Kurosawa’s first color films and is one of the most beautiful movies ever put to cellulose. The transfer from England to feudal Japan works perfectly, and this is my favorite version of Lear.

Throne of Blood is a unique take on Macbeth. While the story remains the same, Kurosawa blends Shakespeare with Japanese traditional Noh drama. The heavily stylized movements of Lady MacBeth mimic and other characters give this a distinctly Japanese feel. In the above photo, you'll see Throne of Blood's version of Lady Macbeth, Asaji, horrified and trying to "wash this blood clean from [her] hands." Throughout this scene Asaji holds this terrible look on her face like a Noh mask.

If you’d like to give your students the chance to compare a few director’s interpretations of Shakspeare, I’d recommend picking up these movies at the video store to show a dramatically different take on Shakespeare.

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