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Four versions of Macbeth; Orson Wells- 1948, Roman Polanski- 1971, BBC Macbeth- 1980's, and Macbeth on the Estate- 1997

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Introduction

Macbeth Media Assignment I have watched the opening scenes of four productions of the Shakespeare play 'Macbeth'. The four versions are as follows: 1. Orson Wells- 1948 (an attempt to film in 21 days with paper-Mache sets) 2. Roman Polanski- 1971 3. BBC Macbeth- 1980's 4. Macbeth on the Estate- 1997 "Performance" I am going to review scenes, visual effects and casting of the characters Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Duncan. I will also comment on which version is the most enjoyable, the most relevant and finally the most intriguing. I will review and comment on only three of the versions, versions 1, 2 and version 4. I will do each version one by one, but will compare them at certain points. Orson Wells The Orson Wells version was filmed in 21 days in 1948. It was filmed for screening in the cinema. This explains the general lack of concern for detail, the paper-Mache sets and the un-professionalism of the actors speeches and delivery. People can easily switch off a television but to walk out of a cinema is harder to do after you have paid for it. The film is in black and white which at the time wasn't a problem but nowadays is not as exciting. Also big parts of the text are missed out in this version, probably because of the 21 day deadline. ...read more.

Middle

I have chosen these for this as they, in my opinion are the two more relevant and accurate versions of the play. Roman Polanski version (1971) of the play doesn't change too much as it is for a cinema audience, and the people viewing it would have payed and would have been expecting a more conventional, unchanged 'Macbeth' because they made a deliberate choice to view it. On the other hand people watching 'Macbeth on the Estate' may not have wanted, or intended to see a Shakespeare film and may not normally opt to watch Shakespeare. Both versions are made with this in mind, and adapt the play accordingly. The Polanski version opens with a long establishing shot, giving the viewer an idea of the settings. It is set on a beach, which is deserted and lifeless. The soundtrack plays a distorted string instrument with a regular piano note as an accompaniment, making for a very unusual effect, as it is played alongside a speeded up sequence of the beach using time lapse photography. A single seagull flying across the sky signifies the change back into realtime, it sqawks as the nondiagetic sound fades. Traditionally the cry of seagulls have been associated with the cry of lost souls and this has probably been chosen for that reason. ...read more.

Conclusion

guard down so that they are receptive to Shakespeare." MacDuff's soliloquy is made up of original text, but isn't actually directly from the text. He says it although the events had already took place and it is made to seem like a flashback, and the sequence is shot as an extreme closeup on his face. The closeups in the Polanski version aren't as long, and this makes for a different effect and it focuses more on their expressions rather than speech. This is because images can often take the place of words, and be just as effective, if not more so. The two versions are very different mainly because of the media that they have been designed for and also because of the time at which the films were made. 'Macbeth on the Estate' raises issues about bringing Shakespeare to different audiences. Some people would say that Shakespeare should be left untouched. Others welcome the changes, as does actor Sir Ian McKellen "If an audience enjoys it, it will be Shakespeare that they are enjoying." Changes to the text are done with varying success. I think 'Macbeth on the Estate' would have been better if the language would have been updated, as the Shakesperian language doesn't seem to fit with the modern characters. The Polanski version is a more typical approach to adaptation, and is well edited and presented for a film of its period. ?? ?? ?? ?? Adam Kennedy ...read more.

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