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Roman Polanski's Presentation of the Witches in Act 1, Scene i and iii of Macbeth.

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Act 1, Scene i In the establishing shot of Roman Polanski's film, he uses a still shot of a red sky on the horizon which eventually goes down. This may suggest evil and spilt blood. The weird and bizarre noises begin as a twisted staff appears on the screen. This may be used to suggest the witches and their twisted minds. Shortly after, there are several close-ups of the witches, a severed forearm and a seagull. These in no way related to the play and are extra props. Polanski may use these close-ups as a way of showing the viewers what may be needed for the charm; the arm could be the ingredient, the seagull- an evil spirit, (such as the 'familiars' in Macbeth) the hole in the sand as the cauldron and the witches as the casters. The witches sprinkle an herb like substance on the ingredients then cover them with sand and say a spell-like rhyme. They pour a vial of blood on the area then spit in a ritual. This is also unmentioned in the play and may suggest the sealing of a charm. ...read more.


This could symbolise that the charm that the witches had cast earlier is affecting Macbeth. Afterwards, we see a wide-angled shot of a craggy rock formation, which may be used to represent the evil and twisted nature of events to come. Furthermore, Macbeth and Banquo are shown to be shrouded in heavy fog, which corresponds with Shakespeare's version, as the witches say, "hover through the fog and filthy air." These diverse weather conditions once again create a sense of evil. As Macbeth quotes his first words, "So fair and foul a day I have not see," we see a long shot of the soldiers marching back from battle. This may be to show the contrast of the foul and fair of the day, the foul being the weather and the fair being the victory at the battle. As the image returns to Macbeth and Banquo, we see that their horses are suddenly spooked. This precedes the entry of the witches and makes it obvious that Polanski wants to give the impression that nature can sense evil. ...read more.


As Macbeth and Banquo leave, they laugh with a ghoulish echo, which could be a sign that their confrontation with the witches will come back to haunt them. The next shot shows Macbeth's tent on a beach. This beach links all of the preceding events as the battle took place on it, and the witches cast a spell there. This is to emphasise the witches' foresight and knowledge of all things. We see Macbeth lying inside his tent, staring straight ahead as voiceovers represent his thoughts. This is an effective method as it shows is how engrossed Macbeth is. Shortly after, Rosse and Angus ride up to Macbeth's camp to present him with the medallion of the Thane of Cawdor. In conclusion, Roman Polanski may have used his own interpretation of Shakespeare's play in his film, adding props such as a severed forearm and a seagull, but the original plot and storyline is still heavily involved in this film production. Polanski effectively uses voiceovers to represent characters' thoughts and plans. He also makes it easier for people who may not understand Macbeth or other Shakespeare plays to understand the storyline. For example, he uses a seagull to represent the 'familiars' and links the storyline well. ...read more.

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