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This movie was directed by same man who did "The Seven Samurai" and also done in black and white. This uses elements of the Japanese concept of noh (stage play) and also elaborate stage work. Not much fighting but genius acting played by the ruthless leader from beginning to end.
I'm going to start off with saying that I HATE Shakespeare (I'm sorry, but High School ruined his work for me).
But I found this palatable. Kurosawa's great; I'm a filmy so I'm supposed to like his work automatically. This film is Macbeth set in feudal Japan with some creative liberties: nothing special. BUT if you're a Shakespeare, or theatre, purest, you won't like this movie.
On a positive note, everyone involved in making this movie does a great job and I think anybody whose studying Macbeth should put down that wretched play and watch this movie instead!
Kurosawa pinches from Shakespeare and comes up with a masterpiece. It is not his finest work (see Seven Samurai, Ran, High and Low, etc.) but it is really good. The image quality in the Criterion Bluray is excellent, and there is a nice accompanying booklet and a documentary from It's Wonderful to Create. I didn't buy it for the extras.
Every Kurosawa film is worth seeing, but if you're new to Kurosawa, this is not a bad place to start.
Image Macbeth as a samurai lord. That's what this film does. Its an interesting blend of an old Scottish story as filtered through Shakespeare and then transported into medieval Japan. It works brilliantly.