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Macbeth - Various Productions

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As a class, we have studied Shakespeare's text of "Macbeth" twice, learning how to interpret the language and also how to relate the certain incidents to the times of Shakespeare. As part of our GCSE coursework, we have been asked to study various productions and write an essay showing how different effects create different atmospheres and responses and we have to decide whether these productions have been successful or otherwise. I have chosen to analyse initial scene, Act (I), scene (I). The decision has been taken as I have thought how witchcraft featured strongly in the time of Shakespeare. Many witches were burned at the stake for their practice. I have been interested in how these witches have continuously changed throughout "Macbeth". They use their witchcraft in the first scene to discuss how to capture Macbeth and it is interesting to see how different directors have interpreted Shakespeare's original text. The first production I studied was a BBC video version made in 1983. In the opening sequence, the sky is enveloped in a red sunset- type atmosphere, and then there is a dramatic change of colour to a grey dull sky and unpredictable forks of lightening strike. This immediately creates an un- natural atmosphere. To add to this, loud intensely spooky music plays, giving the impression that something out of the ordinary is taking place at this time. ...read more.


Two witches accompany her, one elderly like herself and seeming to find it hard in contemplating the strenuous work about to take place. The other is younger, quite pretty with long blonde hair but seems physically too mature in a way. She had aged ungracefully and like the others possessed a humped back. She give the impression that she was imitating the other two haggard witches and seemingly not making the most of her own good features. The older witches look more superior and their facial gestures suggest that they are "teaching" this younger one. She seems dependent on them for instructions. A seagull flies overhead. The 3 sisters are digging vigorously at the sand. The young witch has a dagger and a surreal hand, gored with blood, the hand is wrapped around the dagger, along with a hang-man's noose and in silence they place it in the hole that they took so much obsequiousness in digging and covering it up by sand. After this they express their work by chanting, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair; Hover through the foul and filthy air." They spit on the area, in which their act has occurred and with a look of contempt, yet satisfaction they slowly turn and hobble away. I find this moment of the scene successful, in that it moves slowly, capturing each detail. ...read more.


In the background we hear a drumming noise and this gets more rapid, raising the suspense inside us. As the scene shoots from the witches and Macbeth, the witches continue to talk, with hints of smirks giving a feeling of playfulness rather than evilness. I did not find this production of Macbeth successful in portraying the story as I see it in the real Shakespeare fashion. The modernized pieces destroyed the feel of the play and only succeeded in breaking the atmosphere for me. The jet fighter episode made a farce of what Shakespeare had created in his time and I believe removed the point of the text. It was unrealistic and impractical and to me, this version was insipid and tedious. From these three productions studied, my opinion is that the BBC version worked best. I believe that sticking to the original text and complying with the stage directions works best. It allows the audience to appreciate this play and see the talent of the Shakespeare in its true form. I thought that the Roman Polanski version was successful in capturing the feel of weirdness and thought the site was excellent and effects such as the dramatic changes in lighting were proficient. I rejected the BBC Shakespeare shorts version. I feel it was not a success and making the production modernized took away from the story and the talent portrayed by Shakespeare in the written version. ...read more.

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