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A comparison of the Dagger scene, Act 2, Scene 1, from 'Macbeth' as presented by two different directors, Roman Polanski and Trevor Nunn.

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Introduction

Rachel Crick Year 10 Shakespeare Unit A comparison of the Dagger scene, Act 2, Scene 1, from 'Macbeth' as presented by two different directors, Roman Polanski and Trevor Nunn Shakespeare wrote 'Macbeth' a long time after this actual period of Scottish history. To help him, Shakespeare used historical stories that were written about Macbeth. His information source was a book written by the historian Raphael Holinshed 'Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland', published in 1587. Shakespeare amended this information. He selected, altered and added to the stories written by Holinshed to achieve maximum dramatic effect. Shakespeare felt that the original story of Macbeth would not captivate his audience, and so changed it to give greater dramatic interest. Scotland in the eleventh century was a violent country. Murder and killings to gain status were common. There was always threat of invasion and constant fighting and battles to control various parts of the country. Each warlord (thane) was in control of their own territory. There are many differences between Shakespeare's Macbeth and the Macbeth that ruled Scotland almost one thousand years ago. The real Macbeth was born in 1005, son of Findlaech, and a member of a great family that ruled Moray and Ross. He married Gruach, granddaughter to a High King of Scotland. Macbeth ruled Scotland for seventeen years, it was a prosperous reign and in those seventeen years he provided Scotland with stability. He united South and North Scotland. Macbeth was killed in 1057 at Peel Ring, Lumphanan in Mar after an invasion by Duncan's son Malcolm III. There is no evidence that Macbeth mixed with witchcraft and he was a strong supporter of the church. Macbeth was a bold character, strong willed and a good fighter. He was not weak and would not have given in to the witches and his wife. Also there is no historical evidence that his wife, Gruach, had an influence over her husband. ...read more.

Middle

The other is a video of a stage production by the Royal Shakespeare Company, directed by Trevor Nunn. The main differences between the two versions are the fact that one is a feature film and one is a filmed stage production. No special effects could be used in the Trevor Nunn version because it was filmed on stage. The only effects that could be used were sound and light effects. Roman Polanski concentrates on the visual aspect of the play, whereas Trevor Nunn cannot. Nunn has to rely on the actors' strengths, to portray, for example, the vision of the dagger, and convey the darkness and eeriness. Trevor Nunn even chose not to use any scenery and few props in his particular production, which also intensified the need for actors to use their own skills. Purists prefer to watch the Royal Shakespeare Company version. The number of people wanting to watch this performance is smaller because it is not advertised as a feature film. The Roman Polanski version was a feature film and this opportunity gave him a wider audience. It was felt that this version was more accessible and understandable than the purist version by Trevor Nunn. In the Roman Polanski version, we first see Lady Macbeth holding the jug of wine to give to the guards. She then walks in an open galleried landing which surrounds the courtyard. We hear Fleance and Banquo talking as they enter the courtyard. The scene is in darkness, but as Banquo and Fleance enter, they are carrying a torch. We are looking down on them, the camera being from Macbeth's point of view. Banquo drops his cloak and asks Fleance to take his sword. We briefly see the faces of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth as they look at each other worriedly. Banquo then asks Fleance to take his torch. This is not indicated in the stage directions, it is left up to the director to decide what will be given to Fleance when Banquo asks him 'Take thee that too'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, the camera angles were restricted, but he managed to overcome this by using a static camera used for close ups and medium close ups. The limited shots were hidden by the zooming in and out. This version was intentionally shot to bee eerie and dark. Roman Polanski, when describing Macbeth, thought that 'I see Macbeth as a young, open-faced warrior, who is gradually sucked into a whirlpool of events because of his ambition. When he meets the weird sisters and hears their prophecy, he's like the man who hopes to win a million-a gambler for high stakes.' Macbeth is shown as a man driven by his wife. We see his weaknesses and sympathise with him. His ambition is evident in both versions of the film. Ambition is the driving force behind Macbeth's life and it is his major weakness. When trying to resist murdering Duncan, he says 'I have no spur...but only/Vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself' (act 1, scene 7). He does not realise the consequences of his ambition, nor does his wife. Trevor Nunn sees Macbeth as a strong and determined character. Macbeth's ambition is clearly very visible and this comes across well. He holds his head high, without any big doubts or fears about what he must do. He seems braver, and more confident than the Macbeth directed by Roman Polanski. Roman Polanski's Macbeth is clearly worried and anxious. He seems pressurised into killing the King. He pulls himself together through his soliloquy, and nervously walks to Duncan's chamber. My favourite version was the scene directed by Trevor Nunn. I found it easier to understand. Effects were not needed to help the audience understand because the actors spoke so immaculately and with meaning. I think that Trevor Nunn made good use of the stage and the camera angles. I also liked the Roman Polanski version because it has made Shakespeare more accessible to a wider audience because it was a feature film. Both of these versions clearly show the differences between the directors thoughts about Macbeth. Macbeth has been interpreted in two different ways, both of which work well. ...read more.

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