The composition of Throne of Blood

The composition of Throne of Blood is unique in several ways. This film essentially uses the Noh elements of Japanese theater. Noh is a beautiful style, usually scary. Here the degree of compression is extreme, and is full of symbolism and subtlety. Here, style and story are usually one. The Noh actors walk around on stage in a special heel to toe manner. The world of Noh is both closed and artificial. I guess the limitations of the characters of the film attracted Kurosawa to include Noh elements in the film.

The Noh elements in the film are mostly associated with Asaji– the lady Macbeth– the most evil, confined, limited and bounded character of the story. Every scene with Asaji in it has a Noh like composition. With still cams and complete frames, Kurosawa successfully creates a stage-like environment. The other character, whose compositional aspects are Noh, is the witch herself. The background music, the squeaky sounds, the slight clutter of the witch spinning- all are strongly associated with the Noh. Because of the Noh elements of the film, the punctuation of the film is essentially Noh like, scenes are cut and merged as if they are happening on stage.

Although Noh style essentially deals with horrors, the appearance of the ghost- that of Miki, former friend of our hero, is not Noh. Instead, he is suddenly there, just like filmy ghosts. It uses technology, unlike the theatrical Noh. Interestingly, no scene with our hero alone is Noh. Thus the film is a unique cohesion of modern Japanese cinema and theater! This suggests that Kurosawa specifically choose the characters he painted in Noh. While doing so, he had the final picture ready in his mind with its composition calculated- another reason we call him one of the greatest film makers ever!


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