Frequent Akira Kurosawa collaborator, actor Toshiro Mifune will receive a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, according to toshiromifune.info. The ceremony will occur in 2016, which will also see director Quentin Tarantino and actors Michael Keaton, Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, Ashley Judd and Kurt Russell receive stars over the course of the year.
If you’ve never seen Mifune, he was a brilliant actor. In the spirit of the news, I’m going to recommend two of his collaborations with Kurosawa.
Throne of Blood is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, re-envisioned in the style of Japanese Noh theater. Mifune, playing a feudal warrior who rises to lordship in medieval Japan, may seem wildly over the top at first glance, but his intensity as his character’s fortunes rise and fall are part of the thrill. His death scene is one of the highlights.
High and Low is also an adaptation, this time of Ed McBains‘s King’s Ransom. Mifune plays a wealthy businessman in 1960s Tokyo. His son is kidnapped and a ransom demand is made. He soon discovers the kidnappers made off with the son of his driver and must decide if the child is his responsibility. Having seen Mifune in films like Throne of Blood and Rashomon, it was interesting to see how his performance changes in a more contemporary context. Still intense, his mannerism are tramped down in accordance with the change in Japanese culture during the 20th Century.
While doing some fact checking for this article, I discovered the Washington Post connects the two films, calling High and Low a companion to Throne of Blood. “[High and Low is] Macbeth, if Macbeth had married better,” they write. “The movie shares the rigors of Shakespeare’s construction, the symbolic and historical sweep, the pacing that makes the story expand organically in the mind.”
I highly recommend them both.