The director’s filmography is full of breathtaking and magnificent scenes. In “Throne of Blood”, Lord Washizu (played by Toshiro Mifune) is visited by the ghost of Miki (Akira Kubo), who was killed by Washizu’s assassins to prevent him from taking the throne. This haunting moment lingers with audiences. The scene takes place at Cobweb Castle during a dinner celebrating Washizu’s new role as lord. The event is meant to solidify his status as a general and the order within his realm. However, Washizu’s expression upon seeing the ghost shatters the illusion of order and reveals the chaos caused by his actions, which have disrupted a higher order and now carry consequences.
The way this particular scene is executed is what sets it apart from other adaptations of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. While the clash of the supernatural and the reality of court could have been a source of dramatic effect, Kurosawa cleverly avoids falling into that trap. The majority of the scene is filled with an eerie silence, lacking in sound and music, which adds to the haunting portrayal of a man’s psychological downfall, or perhaps serves as a symbol for his crimes against a higher power, depending on one’s interpretation. Mifune’s expression and the reactions of the assembled generals further highlight the distance between the lord and his subordinates, as well as their state of mind versus the person who is supposed to be their moral leader. At the same time, we witness the breakdown of a character who has been foretold a prophecy for his life, one that he is determined to fulfill, even if it means digging his own grave.
Ultimately, this particular moment, like others, is what leaves a lasting impression on the audience in “Throne of Blood.” While Akira Kurosawa is often linked to grand drama and spectacle, this instance showcases his skillful use of these elements as a contrast to heighten the impact and emphasize the psychological state of the protagonist, brilliantly portrayed by Toshiro Mifune.