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How Roman Polanski uses cinematographic techniques to illustrate his interpretation of Macbeth

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How Roman Polanski uses Cinematographic Techniques to Illustrate his Interpretation of Macbeth Polanski's version of Macbeth contains many unorthodox and interesting techniques to illustrate his interpretation of both the plot and characters of Macbeth. This essay will determine the effectiveness of Polanski's methods and how they accost the audience into seeing the play in a particular light. The opening shot is low-key and measured, establishing the dark tone of the plot and a sense of mystery and confusion in the viewer in order to make them susceptible to the impressionistic techniques used throughout the film. The film opens with a long shot of the sky and beach at dawn; all being quiet and still as the shot is held. Despite being a beautiful image, immediately noticeable is the red sky which reveals the consistent yet concealed undertones of danger, blood, passion and the yearning for power and supremacy that drives the characters. The red in the sky then bleeds out and is replaced by a darker, foreboding colour which prophesises the darkness that will befall the country after murder and greed have wounded it. The use of colour so early on in the film with no distractions draws the viewers' attention to it and makes them aware of its use throughout the film. The shot is then held, a cough is heard and a stick gradually appears in the bottom left foreground. ...read more.


In the bedroom when Macbeth returns, there is a close-up of Lady Macbeth pulling Macbeth onto the bed, showing the roots of passion which, when articulated in another form, result in murder. They lie together until Lady Macbeth becomes distracted by the Thane of Cawdor's medal, exposing her true priorities. Their closeness is once again halted by Macbeth informing her that Duncan is to arrive and she becomes serious, and expresses her intentions with the line 'Never shall sun that morrow see'. Polanski omits the messenger delivering this news in this scene and this serves to highlight the decisive, controlling influence of Lady Macbeth. Her ambition is revealed in the speed at which she formulates a plan without conscience. The fact that in the film she caresses the face of a shocked and confused Macbeth impresses upon the viewer Polanski's view that Lady Macbeth cultivates her husband and uses her sexual power over her husband to spur on his ambition. The film's depiction of the banquet begins with a low shot of horses stampeding frantically in a storm, amongst darkness. This is juxtaposed with Macbeth's soliloquy, which is split between thought and speech, set sheltered from the rain in calm blue light. This shows Macbeth's safety at this time and his knowledge that his security and wellbeing are in his own hands. ...read more.


Duncan is portrayed here by Polanski sleeping like a cocooned child, vulnerable and small to intensify the unjustness of this murder in the viewer's mind. It is when Duncan is clearly shown to open his eyes, filled with fear and shock that Macbeth frenziedly plunges the dagger into him, the first time of many; each one shown as clearly and disturbingly as the next as the shot is held, to emphasise the violence and evil which Macbeth possesses. Duncan fights back half- naked, accentuating his defencelessness and the crown is quite literally removed from him when it falls to the floor, tinged with red light. Duncan fights for his life throughout the unyielding stabbings, showing his true right to be a (good) king and Macbeth's degradation and desperation as he plunges the dagger into Duncan's jugular, covering himself with blood. This scene, with its gratuitous violence, confirms Macbeth's transformation and the terrible consequences of desiring what is not meant to be yours. Polanski's uses of close-ups are thoroughly disturbing, making it impossible for the audience to view Macbeth as anything other than evil. In conclusion, Polanski's film often comes across as clich�d, with the colour-washes used to create mood and overdramatic music making the film appear too theatrical and amateurish. The dialogue is run through as if it has little consequence to make way for the effects and the film is completely erroneous and wide off the mark in the sense that it is so at odds with the melodramatic bloodshed. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lucinda McDade ...read more.

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