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Study and compare two different film interpretations of Act 4 Scene 1 of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. Discuss how you would replace some of the techniques the directors have chosen to use.

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Introduction

MEDIA COURSEWORK- 'MACBETH' Study and compare two different film interpretations of Act 4 Scene 1 of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. Discuss how you would replace some of the techniques the directors have chosen to use. In this essay, I am going to compare two different interpretations of Act 4 Scene 1 of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth', to see how different directors interpret a text and use different techniques to support their ideas. The two film versions of 'Macbeth' that this essay will focus upon are 'Macbeth on the Estate' directed by Penny Woolcock and the Polanski version. Both adaptations were produced in different decades- Woolcock's being in 1997, whereas Polanski's was some twenty years beforehand. In Act 4 Scene 1, Macbeth returns to the witches and as they await his arrival, they prepare the ingredients for the spell and start chanting. Perhaps one of the most obvious differences between both films is the setting. The Polanski version is quite traditional and true to the actual play, as it is set deep in the wild moors- in a cave, unlike Woolcock's version which is very contemporary, set in a Birmingham council estate, where gang rivalry replaces monarchy. I think Polanski is quite traditional with his ideas as it agrees with the text. If I would direct this scene, I would be more original with my idea and set it in a deserted fairground, in the Hall of Mirrors. ...read more.

Middle

Also, there would be three clowns, but the reflection in the mirrors would make it look like a lot more. As well as that, the costume would be lots of muted gaudy colours like red, orange and bright blue, similar to clowns at a fairground. In order to create the desired effects both directors use different techniques. In Woolcock's version, it is set in daylight, so the colour is quite harsh and sharp. Outside of the flat, where Macbeth first starts talking to the witches, it is pale blue lighting, but in the derelict flat, it is quite dark and Woolcock has chosen to use a vibrant use of red (red walls, red lighting, red curtains.) I think this symbolises blood from the murders Macbeth has committed and I also think it symbolises hell. Also, in the den, the camera focused on sacrificial objects used in witchcraft, like a black doll (voodoo), tarot cards, candles and a helmet to symbolise war. This emphasizes the theme of evil. Also, while the witches are in the flat, the camera is unfocused and there are flashbacks, showing what Macbeth has done. In the Polanski version, it is set in the early evening and there is a blue, hazy light tint around the surrounding hills, but near the cave mouth, there is a orange/ red tinge and a bit of smoke and flickering light, which signifies the warmth of the cauldron in the cave. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is also a 'bleeping' sound. All of these add to the dramatic effect. Woolcock has chosen to make many text cuts in this scene, whereas Polanski has stayed with the original text, making very few cuts. Macbeth is famous for its spell and the words "Double, double, toil and trouble" are well known, so to cut it out as Woolcock has done is quite daring, as it is difficult to replace the cauldron and the spell, with something else symbolic and the effect can be lost, as I think is the case in 'Macbeth on the Estate'. Even though the absence of words is replaced by images, the actual impact this has on you is not that great, compared to the Polanski version where the spell is kept, and to add to the effect of it, it shows the witches adding the very gruesome and disgusting looking ingredients into the cauldron. I also think that the actual cauldron contributes to the fact that they are witches and witches cast spells. Overall, I think that both film interpretations are excellent in their own ways, but I think that the Polanski version is more effective than the Woolcock version, as it really brings the witches and the conjuration alive, and because the spell is taken quite literally, being able to see the utterly sickening ingredients being added, makes it more enjoyable for the audience, as they feel like they are involved. ...read more.

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