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Macbeth Media Coursework

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Comparing the openings of 3 film versions of Macbeth which do you think is the most successful and why Shakespeare wrote the play Macbeth with the king in mind. He chose to include the death of a good king and then a fall of a bad king, to illustrate the break in good and evil and to show that the good will always win in the end. This appealed to the king. James 1, who was on the throne at the time had also been known to be interested in witches, so Shakespeare centred his first scene around the witches. We watched a number of different versions of this first scene and chose three to comment on and compare. The first thing I noticed when I watched the three openings was that there was a vast contrast between the settings. Palanski's version which was set on a deserted beach had a very simple setting. I think this is a good thing to have as it causes the audience to concentrate more on the people involved rather than the setting around them. The witches first appear when a camera follows a stick marking a circle in the sand. This builds tension with the audience as they want to know who the stick belongs too. The audience do not fully understand what is going on, as everything is kept very quiet and mysterious, as it is a while before the witches begin to speak. ...read more.


However, I do think the use of sound and music in the Bogdanov version is very effective. Sound is particularly important in Macbeth as owls, shrieking etc play a crucial role in the play. The dominant sound in the Bogdanov version is the drum beat, which you hear right up in till the witches begin to speak, when it becomes quicker. It builds tension, almost sounding like a heartbeat speeding up at the thought of danger causing the audience to become tense. The sounds of gun fire can he heard in the background, making the witches seem very cold and not affected at all by what is going on around them. The sounds of the crackling fire can be heard and the crashing and banging of the witches. With so much going on the audience feels anxious and on edge throughout the whole of the beginning scene. I think Bogdanov uses sound effects very well creating the right tension and feeling of dread the scene needs. Although Palanski has a different approach I still think the use of sound has equally the same effect. The scene begins with 'otherworldly' music building tension. The music is very supernatural sounding, which is ideal for the beginning scene. It creates just the right sense of uneasiness amongst the audience, showing them that something important and mystic will be coming next. After the music it becomes quiet, you can only really hear the sounds of the seagulls screeching, as if they were swooping down threateningly, creating the feeling of suspense. ...read more.


This creates effect because it makes the setting very dark and mysterious, so the audience aren't entirely sure what is going on. Welles uses studio lighting to stage his opening scene even though it looks like it has been done outside. I think this was the best use of colour and lightening, even though it was the simplest. It created the most effect because it gave the scene a sense of suspense and tension. I think Bogdanov's use of colour and lightening was good but I didn't think it created the tension amongst the audience like the Welles version did. I think the sound created the tension the most as the colour and lightening gave the scene a very 'normal' feel. They used bright, natural light and also had fires burning around the set. It looked like a lot of effort had been put into this scene, when it really hadn't been needed. I think that the simple use of black and white created the most effect, even though at that time it was all that was available. Palanski's version was also effective because it used almost supernatural colours, which I feel made the scene seem very mystical, telling you something very bizarre was about to happen. In general, I think the Orson Welles version was the best. I thought that it was the most effective as it was in black and white which made it mysterious. Also it was the only one that did not show the witches faces, making it even more effective. ...read more.

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