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Comparing Film Versions of Macbeth

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Comparing Film Versions of Macbeth Macbeth is a play that was written by William Shakespeare over four hundred years ago. It was written by Shakespeare for James I to show people how James 1 was descended from the true line of kings. In the play Macbeth is a noble in Scotland. When he meets three witches they tell him that he will be king. When he tells his wife she urges him to murder the present king Duncan to gain control of the throne. Eventually he does so and becomes king when the heir to the throne flees. The rest of the play shows how Macbeth is deposed and the "true" heir to the throne is restored. When it was written people believed in divine right of kings - that the king was chosen and directed by God. For example in this play Duncan, who was the king of Scotland at the start of the play, is referred to as having 'golden blood' and his body is described as the lords anointed temple. These phrases make people think he was touched by something divine. Macbeth however is never described in this way, even when he is king. This is because in this play Macbeth is shown as being directed by witches, who were believed at the time to be servants of the Devil. This was done to make people think that Macbeth was an evil king and it should have been James' ancestor (a relative of Duncan) that became king. Plays were often used for this purpose - to alter people's memories of history. For example another play by Shakespeare - Richard III - was written to make people remember Richard III as an evil king and think that the line of kings continuing from ...read more.


After they tell him this he feels invincible but decides to kill Macduff anyway to make double sure that he is safe. He also asks if Banquo's issue (sons) will ever rule in the kingdom. They show him another apparition of eight kings followed by Banquo (these are described in the same way as earlier apparitions so they do not have to be shown) so Macbeth thinks that this means that Banquo's sons will become king and he becomes afraid. Then the witches disappear. In the scene before Act 4 Scene 1 in The Polanski version when Macbeth and lady Macbeth are talking about the blood and guilt they are lying in bed together and the red light effects make it seem as though they are lying in blood! The Polanski version is set in a cavern on an isolated hillside, which is probably how Shakespeare originally intended for it to be. MOE's version however is set in an abandoned house in a housing estate. Inside the house is a hidden shrine or altar inside through a hole in the wall and behind a curtain, which is where the witches perform their spell. The Polanski version sets it in an isolated area to make it seem more scary and ethereal. He made it so that the cavern was below the ground so that it seems as though the witches are lower or not as good as other people in the world. When Macbeth descends into the cavern the music changes slightly and so does the look on his face - he looks more evil. This may also be something to do with downwards being associated with Satan and witches also being associated with Satan. ...read more.


Macbeth then smashes the mirror with his sword and the scene cuts back to the cavern. Macbeth wakes up and all the witches are gone. MOE starts with a downward panning of the witches' altar. The predominant colours are brown red and gold. We then have medium shots switching to whoever is talking until the witches go through the curtains then we see a close up shot of Macbeth's worried face. Then we see a close shot of the curtain where the three apparitions appear. Then we see Macbeth again and see his face. Then the scene ends. Polanski was trying to adhere quite closely to the original ideas of the script with the medieval witches and old-fashioned clothing etc. However he also introduced some elements to change to appeal more to the audience he was targeting. He had Macbeth drink the potion, which did not happen in the play, to make people of the era more interested in what was happening (the 60's being the age of drugs after all). He also gave a lot of clues when the apparitions appeared as to how the story was going to end. This made it a lot easier to understand. He succeeded in making it a traditional adaptation of Shakespeare. MOE however used a very different setting from the original Shakespeare version. By setting it on a housing estate he tried to appeal to the younger generation. It was also quite a lot shorter than the original with many scenes or lines being removed. This is partly to make it appeal more to younger viewers but also because it was designed for television so it had to be split into several shorter segments. However the Shakespearian language in a modern setting seems very strange so I personally prefer the Polanski version. ...read more.

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