With reference to the written Macbeth text, to the R.S.C's 1967 production and the Roman Polanskis 1971 film, analyze how successful each production has been in transforming Shakespeare's written text onto the stage/screen.

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    GCSE Coursework Assignment B

With reference to the written Macbeth text, to the R.S.C’s 1967 production and the Roman Polanskis 1971 film, analyze how successful each production has been in transforming Shakespeare’s written text onto the stage/screen.

Throughout Shakespeare’s life he wrote and directed many famous and wonderful plays, these include Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and the Twelfth night. The play I will be focusing on will be Macbeth. I will be examining how two different directors, Trevor Nunn and Roman Polanski, have interpreted Shakespeare’s written text. Shakespeare conveyed themes and used various other dramatic devices to convey what the characters are feeling and experiencing. Both Trevor Nunn and Roman Polanski interpreted these themes differently and placed different emphasis on each of the many themes, which, resulted in two very different productions of the same play.

        In Roman Polanski’s production of 1971, Jon Finch played Macbeth while Francesca Annis played Lady Macbeth. Polanski’s version was a high budget film with a lot of money spent on clothes, props and typically Scottish scenery. In Polanski’s film there is no specific emphasis on any one theme but there is evidence of them in this production. This production of Macbeth is very lavish and easier to follow as many of the original lines have been edited or cut out. Also with the aid of scenery, I feel the viewer can get a better sense of what Shakespeare had originally intended. It is also worth mentioning that Polanski had a greater cast for his version.

        In Trevor Nunn’s production of 1976, Ian McKellan played Macbeth and Judi Dench played Lady Macbeth. This production was preformed on stage with fewer props and a lot of emphasis placed on Light and Darkness, which represents good and evil. Trevor Nunn’s production had fewer actors and very understated costumes, as it was a low budget production. This version of Macbeth stuck rigidly to the original text and as a result proved slightly harder to follow. Although the level of acting shown by both Ian McKellan and Judy Dench was much stronger and convincing, the lack of scenery and props made it difficult for the viewers to realize what Shakespeare had intended.

        Polanski’s film opens on a beach with the three weird sisters. The original text says a wild heath land but I feel a beach is affective as they later speak about creating a sea storm to punish a sailor’s wife,

 “A sailors wife had chestnuts in her lap”, the scene ends with the camera focusing in on a dagger, which is not in the original, but again I feel this was effective because it gives us a sense of their ability to see the future. Throughout Polanski’s film he has alot of different scenery, which are typically Scottish and are very affective to convey how the weather changes throughout the play in relation to what the characters are feeling or saying. Polanski does not place strong emphasis on any one theme, although they are evident throughout. Polanski used music a lot in his production. The music changes in accordance with what is happening in the foreground, non-more so than when evil approaches. The music is loud, unpleasant and does not seem to have any particular pattern. This contrasts well with the pleasant, free flowing and heavenly music, which accompanies the good people in the film. This works very well as in the original text Shakespeare did not use music as affectively or at all?, it helps to convey the evilness of the witches, which is what Shakespeare, had intended. Macbeth was set in 1606 and the clothes used in Roman Polanski`s production I felt were very realistic and again worked well as it gave the viewer a better idea of what people where like back then and how they behaved.

        Trevor Nunn’s production as I said was less expensive and had a smaller cast with fewer props. This however did not take away from an excellent interpretation. Trevor Nunn places a lot of emphasis on light and darkness, good verses evil, this is most evident when we first meet Duncan. He is all dressed in white and is portrait as a frail old man, the music which accompanies him is church organ music and gives Duncan a heavenly radiance. This ties in very nicely with the “Divine Right Of Kings” theme where a crime against the king is a crime against God. Shakespeare did place some emphasis on light and darkness

Macbeth- “What is the night?……”

Lady Macbeth- “Almost at odds with morning, which is which………”

The struggle between good and evil is also incorporated in the struggle between light and darkness in Trevor Nunns production, light being good, darkness being evil.

           Macbeth- “Stars, hide your fires!

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Let not light see my dark and deep desires……”

This production is done on stage so there is a constant black background although different shades of light are shone upon the character’s faces, these usually relate to what they are feeling or saying. The lack of props makes the story that little harder to follow though the appropriately chosen clothes and excellent acting makes up for this.

        Roman Polanski and Trevor Nunn both have very different interpretations of the play, in particular Act I scene VII and Act III scene IV.

        In Roman Polanski`s production Act I scene ...

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