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Compare and contrast Roman Polanski's and Orson Welles' film adaptation of the opening scene of Macbeth, saying how effective you find the two versions

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Compare and contrast Roman Polanski's and Orson Welles' film adaptation of the opening scene of Macbeth, saying how effective you find the two versions There have been many film adaptations of Shakespeare's play, Macbeth. These are widely varied, from the Japanese version 'the Throne of Blood' to the gangster version 'Joe Macbeth'. Two of the best-known adaptations are, Orson Welles (1947) and Roman Polanski's (1971). This essay will seek to compare and contrast the two films' very different but effective opening scenes. Both directors have been drawn to the work of Shakespeare in very different ways. Welles most likely gained an interest in Macbeth through his earlier career as a Shakespearian actor where as, Polanski may have wanted to portray the workings of evil by using Macbeth. This is possibly the result of the tragic murder of Polanski's pregnant wife by Charles Manson and his followers. Using the first scene of both films, I intend to make a comparison as to the effectiveness of how both directors adapted Shakespeare's Macbeth. ...read more.


Also, the use of different techniques has allowed both directors to convey the witches in different manner. Welles doesn't show the witches in detail and keeps their appearance hidden with the use of shadow and silhouette. This adds to the mystery shrouding the witches. One of the witches has a very masculine voice adding to their unsightly character and Welles has clearly linked the traditional image of witches with pointed hats and black cauldrons to his witches in the film allowing viewers to have an instantaneous understanding of these characters. Also, towards the end of the scene it can be seen that the witches are scraping a lump of clay. The object they shape turns out to be a figure of Macbeth, which creates a sense of foreboding for him. In my view, Polanski presents the witches closer to the original vision Shakespeare had for them. His portrayal of the witches suggests that they are ordinary people, not wearing pointed hats or black robes but rather ordinary rags. Polanski clearly shows the appearance of all three witches and it can be seen that two of the witches are older women whilst one is a younger woman. ...read more.


This gives the impression of evil being everywhere even in the most beautiful of places. The sky is red this may be associated with proverb 'red sky in the morning, Shepard's warning'. This imagery might imply an omen of evil things to come. The camera focuses in on the witches digging in silence, leading to a sense of purpose and mystery. At the end of this scene the witches walk slowly away from the camera into the surrounding mist. This generates a strong feeling of secretive and unknown evil. In conclusion, both Welles and Polanski have successfully achieved what Shakespeare had portrayed in the first scene of Macbeth. Both directors have adapted Macbeth very effectively to the screen. However, Polanski has created a more realistic setting, conveying that evil is everywhere. Welles has not achieved success with his unconvincing scenery. Both directors successfully portray the witches although in a different manner. Polanski keeps to the depiction of the witches by Shakespeare in that they are not dressed as traditional witches for the viewer's benefit. Polanski also imposes the intentions of Shakespeare to make his film truer to the original play, whereas, Welles utilises maximum artistic license to create his own vision of Macbeth. ...read more.

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