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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Drama
  • Word count: 8271

Act 1 scene 1 of "Macbeth" the Scottish tragedy.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

MACBETH Throughout Shakespeare's life, witches and witchcraft were the object of much fascination. Although some people did not believe in these superstitions most people believed in witches. Witches were believed to possess extraordinary powers. They could predict the future, fly and bring on night in daytime. This leads me on to the scene we have chosen to examine. It is act 1 scene 1 of "Macbeth" the Scottish tragedy. The director of the version we have chosen is Roman Polanski. In this essay I am going to look closely at many aspects of the opening scene including setting and sound. The scene we have chosen that opens the play is a very short scene. Although it is short it is long enough to awaken curiosity, but it does not satisfy this curiosity. I think the reason why Polanski started with the witches is because this leaves us in no doubt about how big apart the witches will play. It also indicates that the play is going to be a struggle between good and evil. As the opening scene begins Polanski instantly creates a sense of terror and unearthly feelings. He does by using a burnt orange/red sky overlooking a bleak desolate bare beach. Then the sky quickly develops from sunrise to morning. We see the witches walk along the wet sand as they leave the beach. They leave no footprints behind, jut black shadows. In this way Polanski tries to show the dark powers of the witches. This is followed by mist, which gradually blends the witches into the landscape until they are out of sight. This sets a most unearthly and spooky atmosphere. What Polanski is trying to do here is show the witches in their own environment. I think that the changes Polanski has made in the opening scene make his version better than the original version because he was able to potray the witches as normal people with mysterious powers. ...read more.

Middle

What Polanski is trying to do here is show the witches in their own environment. I think that the changes Polanski has made in the opening scene make his version better than the original version because he was able to potray the witches as normal people with mysterious powers. Polanskis' method of using sounds enables us to feel we are on the beach when these evil wrong doings are happening. The scene begins with the sound of bells, which indicate people might be going to church. This would mean nobody would be able to see the witches making their way to the beach. Then there are a lot of sounds, which create a tense atmosphere e.g.: coughing, scraping, grunts and earth being moved. This makes us feel frustrated because we cannot hear what the witches are saying under their breath. Then we hear the witches chanting their famous couplet "fair is foul and foul is fair hover through the fog and filthy air." This is followed by the witches talking, which is the same as the Shakespeare version only the familiars of the witches who would have been recognised by an Elizabethan audience have been left out. The scene ends with the sound of a wheel creaking, which hints at people coming home. These sounds that Polanski uses are very different to those of Shakespeare who suggests using rain and thunder sounds, which suggest a dangerous atmosphere. When the opening scene begins we see a burnt sunset, which tells us that there will be a theme of death and fire in the movie. Then it quickly develops into a dull morning with nothing in sight apart from three witches this gives us an eerie feeling. Then Polanski focuses on mist and fog, which gives a sense of unearthly feeling, because no one is able to see the strange happenings of the witches. This is followed by the witches walking through the mist and fog until they are out of sight. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is followed by the witches walking through the mist and fog until they are out of sight. All of these colours set the theme of the movie, the burnt sky represents death. The grey gives us a magical and eerie feeling, which represents the magic of the witches throughout the movie. I think the way in which Polanski represents the witches is very effective. Polanski portrays the witches as being old hags. One in particular has both her eyes out and they are sealed over with skin while another is just old, and bears the many scares of her evil life. In Polanski version the young witch would be better known as an apprentice she is forever running after and seeing to the other witches. I think Polanski has constructed this play in a way that enables the viewer to feel the ways and wrong doing of the witches .The very way in which he presents the witches having their own method of communication e.g. the way they mumble under there breath. Polanski has also tried to put the witches across a being poor. He does this by dressing them in rags, instead of normal female garments. During this scene Polanski has shown the witches burying symbolic objects. They bury a rope, which symbolises a hangman noose, which is put into the witches' cauldron. Then they throw a hand holding a dagger that tells us there is going to be a murder. Then they pour blood over the top of this, which symbolises blood shad again a major theme in the play. I thought that act 1 scene 1 of Polanskis' Macbeth was very successful. I thought that this play was wonderfully adapted to twentieth century. Polanskis' key method in this opening scene was colour, which immediately drew us in, and enthralled us. I think sound played an exciting part as it created a spooky and eerie effect. I also enjoyed the way the witches were put across. ...read more.

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