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Comparing two film versions of Macbeth, Roman Polanski's 1972 film and Michael Bogdanov's 1998 film.

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Introduction

Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 4 'The Banquet Scene' Interpretations on Video Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, has been portrayed in various different ways on film: in the more traditional style of Roman Polanski's 1972 film and in the more contemporary 1998 film, made by Channel 4 and directed by Michael Bogdanov. One of the most interesting scenes in the play is the 'Banquet Scene' in which King Macbeth is publicly and supernaturally confronted by his sins - the ghost of his former friend Banquo, who was present when first Macbeth learned of his destiny from the We�rd Sisters. Macbeth feels that Banquo knows too much and suspects him for the murder of King Duncan as shown by 'and I fear/ Thou played'st most foully for't'. Macbeth's only answer is to have Banquo murdered by paid assassins. Since the murder of Duncan, Macbeth has entrenched himself in even more murderous means of achieving his aims - such as the murder of Banquo and the murderers - the ends justify the means in a very machiavellian way. In Roman Polanski's film, the Banquet Scene is interestingly cut up into four separate consecutive scenes: firstly the beginning of the banquet, with all the customary entertainments, then Macbeth leaves the room to speak with the murderers, and the murderers are dispatched, next the main 'Banquet Scene' followed with the Macbeths in bed. ...read more.

Middle

The next 'mini' scene is the Macbeths in their bed after the night's festivities. The room is flooded with an eerie blood-like red light, reminiscent of the dawn, which may signify that the Macbeths are still plagued with insomnia. It is also an omen still believed today: 'red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning'. By dividing the scene into four separate parts, Polanski emphasises the continuity of the Macbeth's life despite their supernatural and bloody predicament. In Michael Bogdanov's Channel 4 version of Macbeth, he tries to create a version that is more palatable to the audience the film caters for. By setting it in a contemporary world, he creates a modern-day Macbeth, using imagery of the twentieth century to clarify certain points in the text. The scene is set in a huge room with a cathedral-like quality, it seems to be in a state of faded grandeur: perhaps reflecting the dereliction caused by the expensive war that begins the play. In place of the altar, if the room was a cathedral, is the throne of Macbeth - a comment on Macbeth's crime of regicide (believed to be a crime against god). The dress is extremely formal, modern-day White Tie. ...read more.

Conclusion

The versions differ also in that in the 1972 version the ghost appears only once, in a broken up sequence, whereas in the 1998 version the ghost appears twice in a more textual, sophisticated manner. The 1972 version remains literal and staidly conventional throughout the film. In my opinion, both films are equally effective. The 1998 version portrays the all-important 'Banquet Scene' as a contemporary dinner party that goes horribly wrong, and the horror-movie quality of the ghost gives the film a really good way of expressing the play in all its glory. The 1972 version remains mostly faithful to the text and to the original staging of the play and is as Shakespeare would have wished his play to be staged. The sheer, unadulterated goriness of the ghost piques most viewer's interest, and the traditional costume as well as the breaking up of the scene give the film a more realistic sequence, instead of the 1998 sophisticated, and yet carefully staged acting. Both films are, however, very well directed and staged and give a really good interpretation of the text, which is enjoyable to people who have both read the text and those who have not. Francesca Lewis UVS, English Coursework Essay. 1.11.02 ...read more.

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