Macbeth vs. Throne of Blood

Shakespeare’s play Macbeth depicts one of the human nature—craving for power. This characteristic is universal, common to all cultures in all times, and applied to both men and women though in different ways of expression. I think what makes Macbeth to be classical as the effective vehicle for adaptation is exposing human nature through the plot and scripts. Although the plot of usurpation is not sophisticated—lack of long-term planning and act impetuously, it discloses the protagonist’s psychological struggle throughout the plot and conveys the ideas that the writer tried to say. With the application of poetic English as the scripts, the play turns out to be an art piece with philosophy.

Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood is the Japanese version of Macbeth. The background of the story is in Japan’s Warring States period. Similar idea as in Europe, there was no single individual or family ruling over the territory. Generals from various feudal fiefdoms dominated their owns and fight with others with the ambition as taking the supreme power over the land. Regicide and usurpation was against the social morality as a samurai, but it was not unusual. Like the script in the film “who doesn’t want to be the lord of the city as a general”. Washizu and Macbeth are capable generals. They have the desire to move one step forward on the power ladder. Even though they consciously know it is treasonous to just think about regicide, they have the ambition because craving for power is a trap in human nature. This unconscious ambition can be provoked in certain situation. In both the play and the film, it seems it is the witches’ fault to seduce the protagonists to commit regicide. I think the scene reflects the devil in Washizu and Macbeth’s mind. As in the film, after listening the prophecy from the witch, Washizu and his buddy, Miki, had a discussion about the prophecy when they were finally out of the mist. Washizu said it was like awaking from a dream. Dream is the speaking of the unconsciousness according to Freud.

Although the plot is basically the same as Macbeth in Throne of Blood, the director makes some adjustments according to cultural difference between the west and the east. In Macbeth, it inherits the legacy of Greek tragedy—human in trap of their nature and cannot get rid of the judgment of destiny. It mixes with ideas from Christianity, such as the devils say ambiguous words to deceive people, the devils say some truths to seduce people into a trap. In Throne of Blood, the sense of hierarchy is more intense in the daily practice between the lord and the subjects. The lord of the city stay in Washizu’s castle is not for feast as in Macbeth does, his purpose is offending the enemy in the pretense of hunting. Second, people from the east are craftier in term of dealing with others. Lady Washizu’s persuasion of regicide to her husband creates a delusion that the lord of the city and Miki conspire to kill Washizu because of the prophecy and Washizu’s powerful position in the army.

The film applies Nod techniques. The art of Nod is a traditional Japanese stage performance. The protagonist of a Nod play needs to wear a mask. In the film, Lady Washizu wears a Nod mask. Also the background music in the film is Nod style music, played by flute and drum. I feel Lady Washizu’s bodily movement is Nod style, because it looks rigid.

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