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Compare 3 film openings of Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Introduction

Compare the openings of 3 film versions of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Which do you think is the most successful and why? I am writing an essay to compare the opening scene of Macbeth as directed by Orson Welles in 1948, Bogdanov in 1998 and Polanski in 1971. There are many ways in which these scenes could be compared, but I decided to restrict it to camera movement, setting, props and sound. All three directors use the idea of nature as the first shot. Orson Welles uses a distant castle shaped rock, Polanski uses a sun setting on the horizon, and Bogdanov uses a beautiful green valley. This first shot demonstrates the wild and untamed beauty of nature and its sheer size. In Orson Welles' version, the scene opens with the view of some menacing clouds above the mist. In the distance we can see a castle shaped rock. The next shot shows three silhouetted figures high up on a rock face. These figures need to be seen if the viewer is to understand the scene. Showing them up high gives us a sense of their power. We can't actually see the witch's faces. This makes the viewer feel tense, as you don't know whom they are. Everything around the witches is dead or dying, which gives us a feeling of despair. ...read more.

Middle

When the witches have put the contents of the package into the hole, they bury them with the sand they dug up. The witches spit on the patch and start to chant. This could be a curse or spell of some sort. After their chanting, they decide where to meet with Macbeth. The scene ends with the witches walking off into the distance. As they get further and further away, mist covers the set. I think Polanski used mist to cover the set to add the mysterious and scary effect to the scene. Bogdanov's scene opens with a view of a beautiful green valley, but this view doesn't last long. As the camera moves left, we see fire over a large plain of land and hear the sound of guns and drums. This builds up the tension for the viewer as we wonder what's going on. The viewers don't expect to see a war going on, they expect to see the three witches and what the director's shown them as doing. In this case it's acting like street urchins. The camera shows, what looks like three bagwomen. We know they are the witches as soon as the camera shows them because they start talking about where to meet again. ...read more.

Conclusion

This adds tension to the feeling of the viewer. Also, the witches look a lot more like witches and do more things than the other two, for example, once the buried the objects, they performed a ritual or a spell of some sort over it. This could be a curse towards Macbeth. The unsatisfactory things about this version is that it isn't as scary or horrific as the other two were, so the impact that was supposed to be in this scene is lost because there's nothing much there to set the scene. There could also be more props and scenery to make the scene more appealing. If I did have to choose one, I would probably choose Orson Welles' one, as it has more mystery and suspense in it. Although there aren't many props used, we know that they are witches because they have a cauldron and are wearing rags. The witches in this version also sound like witches. Their voices are muffled, which people from the past thought witches sounded like. Another reason why I'd choose this one is because there is a terrifying effect at the beginning, which then turns into suspense as you wonder what they're making and what the they're going to do as they pull the statue out of the cauldron. 1 ...read more.

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