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Polanski's Version of Macbeth

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Macbeth For the purpose of this assignment I shall compare and contrast act 1 scene 1 and the scene surrounding the murder of King Duncan in the play 'Macbeth' as presented in the BBC production and Roman Polanski's production. The Roman Polanski's version of Macbeth opens with a shot of a beach, with a calm blue sea lapping against the shiny sand, and a red sunrise. The red sky suggesting blood or evil turns slowly to blue suggesting coldness. This scene is filmed on location. It appears to be early morning, the beach is long and distance with little sign of any life, suggesting isolation. The incidental music playing is one which is rather ominous; this music is slowly faded out until there is utter silence periodically interrupted by the noise of seagulls. We are then startled by an object which turns out to be an old warped stick used by one of the witches. The witches used in this scene are very stereotypical witches, ugly, dressed in rags. It is not hard to tell that these people are evil. The witches are disfigured and wear dark clothes meaning evil as people think outer appearance mirrors inner thoughts. The three witches appear to be a sequential generation with the grandmother, mother and child. The witches' acting seems really realistic compared to other productions, due to their more natural behavior. The oldest witch scrapes a circle in the sand with the stick. The two younger witches start digging a hole in the sand where the circle was drawn with their hands. The camera cuts to seagulls for a split second, when the camera has returned the hole has been dug. The three witches put a severed arm-and-hand, with a knife in the hand, and a noose in the hole. These three items are very symbolic in terms of the play. The knife or dagger, which was used to kill the king, the hand which was used to represent Macbeth's hand, as all these murders were at the hands of Macbeth. ...read more.


This first act is a soliloquy where Macbeth's thoughts are spoken aloud to the audience. Unlike most productions, when Macbeth imagines that there is a dagger that looks like his leading him to King Duncan's room the audience can see this happening. The special effect used to concretise Macbeth's sight is neither realistic nor believable yet it helps the audience follow the story line with out having to concentrate solely aurally on the play. The dagger appears to lead Macbeth into darkness, this creates the feeling that Macbeth is unable to control his own actions, and it is in fact the dagger that is leading him to create this brutal crime symbolized by the darkness in which it leads him. The fact that this causes Macbeth to appear like he is possessed makes the audience feel sympathy for him. The music is discordant and disturbing; it is mainly low notes being played, this all adds to the suspense. Macbeth slowly walks about the castle until he finally reaches the room in where King Duncan is asleep. Macbeth walks through a door, the camera shows the door slowly closing, and it then cuts to the other side. Macbeth stands at the other side of the door, the camera focuses in on a big close up of him. His face is half in shadow, this is highly symbolic as in most productions good is represented by light and evil by darkness this enforcing the idea that Macbeth is clearly undecided about committing this crime. The suspense is then added to when the camera cuts to a shot of one of the guards lying still on the ground. The first impression is that the guard is dead as there is what appears to be blood lying close to him on the ground, this later turns out to be nothing more that wine. As Macbeth goes to enter the next doorway into King Duncan's bedroom he pulls out his own dagger, then pauses to think, places his own back and lifts two of the daggers belonging to the passed out guards lying on the ground beside him. ...read more.


We are then shown Lady Macbeth walking up to the portal that Macbeth himself recently departed from earlier. There is utter silence, this allows the audience to create there own image of what has just happened. She is very tense and breathes heavily, she over reacts to any noise that she hears. Macbeth returns onstage along with Lady Macbeth, "The deed is done" says Macbeth after he has just committed the act of regicide. His hands are blood stained and he is still holding both blood stained daggers. We can now see how he feels about this crime, as described in act II Macbeth was tearing warriors apart. He was a well respected warrior, now clearly distort about the single murder that he has just committed. "Macbeth shall sleep no more," is the only line that Macbeth can seem to say. He is fixated on this line that he imagined was said offset three times. He is in a traumatic state. He has no control over his speech and he seems to be fairly paralyzed. Lady Macbeth struggles with her husband. The first time when she pulls his arm and he doesn't respond and the second when she attempts to free the daggers from her husband's grasp, this is symbolic of the constant struggle of power in their marriage. Between these two scenes I prefer Roman Polanski's; from a visual point of view this scene is very effective; not only is it less melodramatic it also adds in a bit of the producers own creativity. The special effects or camera work may not be the best in this production but at least they are a lot better than the BBC production. The better technical effect maybe due to Polanski's being a high budget products and aimed at a cinema going audience rather than a theater audience. John McLaughlin - john_mclaughlin@email.com Feel free to e-mail me on ways to improve this essay it would be a great help. John McLaughlin - john_mclaughlin@email.com Feel free to e-mail me on ways to improve this essay it would be a great help. ...read more.

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