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The Film Versions of Macbeth

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Roman Polanski, Orson Welles and Akira Kurosawa have all directed their own versions of Macbeth the play. This demonstrates the plays timeless appeal to so many different cultures. The reason for this timeless appeal is that it is relevant to so many cultures. The theme of ambition is one of the key themes of the play; it is relevant to all cultures even now as everyone holds the ambition to succeed in life, it is a part of human nature. Another major theme of the play that is relevant to all cultures is violence. Violence has been rampant throughout all times and all cultures. All people understand violence and are interested in one way or another in it. That is why Macbeth has such an appeal to all cultures. Both of these themes are still relevant today and are still seen today. At the time when the original play was created and performed the topic of witches was a big topic of discussion. Courtroom cases were held for accused witches and many innocent women were killed for allegedly being witches. This meant that the audience would have believed in witches making the scene more effective to them and it could have scared them also. Also James I would have been interested in this topic of witches so the play would have attracted him. ...read more.


The witches are wearing plain dull colours mostly black but one witch is wearing a white shawl the black clothes add to the dark view of the witches and their evil. This is effective as it builds on the audience's view of the witches and makes them more interested in the film. The shots in this version are effective as they help the audience establish where the witches are with the close up of the sea gull, the time that passes by the lighting and when they are leaving a long shot is used to show what direction they leave. These are all quite effective I think. He creates a kind of eerie atmosphere as the witches are surrounded by fog and as they leave they disappear into the fog eerie light adds to this effect. The music is at a slow pace and is a crescendo. It uses violins, which adds to the eerie effect. Overall I think that this is an effective interpretation of Shakespeare's Macbeth and has kept most aspects the same as the original so kept the basic plots and storyline. It shows the themes of violence and ambition well in the references to the future. In Orson Welles version of the opening scene the witches begin on a cliff edge they are casting a spell in a cauldron and drop something into it while saying lines three and four of the play. ...read more.


Kurosawas witch is dressed in white, which is uncharacteristic of a western witch. The usual views of witches are in dark usually black clothes, this difference is probably due to the cultural difference in the directors. During the witch scene the witch is spinning something on a spinning wheel, it is a symbol to show that the witch is 'spinning the thread of life' this is trying to show that the witch is controlling the fate of Macbeth. This is similar the voodoo doll in Orson Welles version the different ways that this is shown is a give away of the cultural differences. The similarity between these two is that they are trying to show that the witch/witches are controlling the future events, like in the original. I thought that Orson Welles version was the most effective. I thought that Akira Kurosawa's version, as a whole was too melodramatic. The Orson Welles version uses a very typical view of the witches, which I think adds to the atmosphere of the scene and the setting also is typical of the medieval era. All this adds to the atmosphere. Roman Polanski's version was also effective but I thought that the setting could have been better. It could have been set in a dark gloomy place like Welles version as I think the seashore isn't really associated with evil. Compare and contrast the ways in which Roman Polanski, Orson Welles and Akira Kurosawa dramatise the first witches scene in Macbeth. Which Director do you consider interprets the key ideas in Shakespeare's text most effectively. ...read more.

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