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Comparing the presentation of the opening scene of Macbeth by the Royal Shakespeare Company with that of Polanksi's film production - Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each version you prefer and explaining the reasons for your choice.

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Comparing the presentation of the opening scene of Macbeth by the Royal Shakespeare Company with that of Polanksi's film production. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each version you prefer and explaining the reasons for your choice. In 1606 William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, wrote a play which would go down in history as the cursed Scottish play after numerous mishaps during production. It was written for his new patron, James I (James VI of Scotland), following the death of Queen Elizabeth. James was interested in witchcraft and Scotland, and hence the themes in the play. Banquo is James's ancestor. The play itself tells the story of a man named Macbeth, urged by his wife and foretold by prophecy, who commits regicide in order to gain power. Macbeth is a basically good man who is troubled by his conscience and loyalty though at the same time ambitious and murderous. He is led to evil initially by the witches' predictions and then by his wife's goading, which he succumbs to because he loves her so. His obsession over the kingship shows a certain kind of egotism. Lady Macbeth is a good wife who loves her husband. She is also ambitious but lacks the morals of her husband. ...read more.


The production starts with a bird's eye view of the stage. There are stage lights focusing on the circle creating shadowy effects. As the camera zooms in the characters take a step to their right hand side and sit themselves on upturn crates facing inwards. The camera, which positions itself at the characters eyelevel, starts rotating round the circle showing all the characters. The audience gets the felling that this is a church ceremony because we have organ music playing. These same chords, somewhat soured, signify the invasion of something unpleasant. The witches enter and gather in a fixed circle, holding hands and bowing over two small twigs, which they have removed from a bag. These twigs may symbolise Macbeth and Duncan for the twigs are like toys to the witches. It seems that the younger witch goes into a trance and is suffering from a vision. The witches begin screeching, crying out and moaning. The sounds rise to a climax that concludes in a roar of thunder and murkiness. At the same time the witches help up the younger witch Macduff helps a feeble Duncan out of his chair so he can knell down and pray. The producer I believe tries to get the audience to think about the conflict between good and evil. ...read more.


I believe that the cinematography used in Trevor Nunn production creates a greater amount of suspense than the cinematography used in the Polanski's version. The music used in Nunn's version gives the withes a more powerful image. The witches in Polanski's production do not come across as convincing as Trevor Nunn's production. Polanski's witches are dressed in rags, which suggest that they are mere pagans not witches. Both of the productions do not give of the real supernatural powers of the witches because in Shakespeare's text they disappear. Banquo says when the witches vanish "the earth has bubbles, as the water has, and these are of them. Wither are they vanish'd?" Both of the productions do not present the appearance's of the witches the way in which Banquo described them "By each at once her choppy finger laying Upon her skinny lips: you should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so." Out of the two productions I prefer Trevor Nunn's version the best. I prefer The Royal Shakespeare production because it doesn't take liberty on the text like Polanksi does. It is a close production on how it would have been acted out in Shakespeare's time. The witches come across more convincing than Polanski's witches. Finally I prefer the way the witches in The Royal Shakespeare production pause when "There to met with...?" "Macbeth". Timmy Hyndman 12D ...read more.

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