18 January 2014

Macbeth 1971 (Polanski)

Macbeth 1971
  • Director: Roman Polanski
  • Based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth
  • Cast: Jon Finch, Fransesca Annis, Martin Shaw, Terence Baylor, Stephen Chase, Maisie MacFarquhar, Elsie Taylor, Noelle Rimmington, Diane Fletcher
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Jon Finch: Kingdom of Heaven, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry the Fourth Parts One and Two  (BBC), King Richard II
    • Fransesca Annis: Cranford, The Libertine, Cleopatra
    • Terence Baylor: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Remains of the Day, Brazil, Life of Brian
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: January 10, 2014 

       Polanski certainly can make films.  I’m quite impressed with this Macbeth.  It’s filled with contrasts: bright colours, low key monologues; beautiful people (both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are very pleasing to look at) and violence; dramatic Scottish landscapes and a very slow pace.
       The main problem with the film is that there’s too much of it.  Scenes that aren’t in Shakespeare are added unnecessarily. We don’t need to see a pretty boy singing prettily for King Duncan, for example. And the final fight between Macbeth and Macduff goes on forever.
       But the important things are good.  The witches are at the same time quite straightforward and creepy.  Where did Polanski find that ancient toothless crone?  The “out damned spot” and “tomorrow” monologues work.  Lady Macbeth is too pretty but otherwise very good actually.  Not at all the blood-thirsty crazed king-killer she’s usually presented to be, but one half of a political duo who does what’s necessary to achieve the throne they’re prophesied to take. Jon Finch is a good brooding Macbeth (though he’s even better as a tortured Henry IV in the BBC films about ten years later.)
       All in all, this is the best Macbeth film we’ve seen so far.


3 ½ * of 5 

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