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Two Different Film Versions, of Shakespeare’s Macbeth Essay

The Polanski version of Macbeth was very good. Polanski has re-enacted the script in a very realistic way, and could afford to do so because of the huge budget he had to work with.

The film was possibly set during the Elizabethan era. Because of the huge budget, Polanski could afford to make everything perfect in his film to resemble what life was really like at that time under the rein of Queen Victoria. He could have the castle, the clothes and all the props to make a really good interpretation of what life was like at time in history.

For a start Polanski introduced a younger Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and other cast members also changed. Polanski introduced his own style and it worked well. He preferred to use the younger Macbeth and Lady Macbeth rather then the middle aged, which was usually portrayed in other scripts. But this move to a younger cast was a good one. Jon Finch (Macbeth) is properly ambitious and brutish as the traitorous lord. And Francesca Annis is a lovely Lady Macbeth.

The film is quite gruesome and brutal in some parts. It is a film with the violence a strong point in it. It is full of kinetic disturbing images of death and dying, decapitations and brutal swordplay abound. But is still works well with Shakespeare’s original script, which is also thrilling and violent. It gives a more realistic feel to the film with its gory and bloody detail.

The colour is lavish, and is used very well, in the large dining hall and the use of the many guests and servants rich costumes. There is a lot of detail with the props ad the costumes. The props are very effective and pragmatic and also plentiful because of the huge budget that was used. The castle, the courtyard and the furniture and other authentic props all create a mood and atmosphere, which help build up the realistic feeling.

There is also a good use of music, which sets the atmosphere. For example when the ghost of Banquo appears to Macbeth. The lighting is also used very effectively for the shadows and the ghost scene, where the place goes dark and the light is focused upon Macbeth and the ghost of Banquo.

The actors of Macbeth and Banquo act out the whole ghost scene very well. The use of the fake blood and the white makeup makes the ghost seem so real, as you can clearly see the contrast between the living and the dead, with the strong colour differences.

Polanski does have some text omitted and introduces some extra props and scenes during the film. He introduces a scene of wild animals, fighting bears and dogs, and also the bird of pray on the ghost of Banquo’s shoulder to reinforce the theme of violence and brutality.

The BBC version of Macbeth is a more theatrical version, and was set on a low budget.

The film was set during the same times as that in the Polanski version, the medieval times (1600’s). The BBC used actors that are middle aged. There are less guests and the making of the film is set on a much smaller scale than that of the Polanski version.

The use of colour in the film is minor and the settings are dull and drab, there are few guests and it is not particularly regal. The props are not very spectacular because of the low budget that the film was shot on. There is a small hall and few guests, and when the ghost scene arises there is no actual viewing of the ghost itself. Instead they use an empty chair. The chair is in the shape of an H, and could be used to symbolise hell, and as a sign of the wrong doing that Macbeth has carried out by killing Banquo.

The music and the lighting are very good and is used very effective. The performances and acted out very well, but are somewhat overreacted in some parts because of their theatrical approach to the making of the film. The music and the lighting is used very effectively when the ghost scene comes into play, to convey and emphasise the felling of uncertainty and apprehension that Macbeth is going through at the sight of the ghost. Which is acted out very well. They follow very closely to the original text that Shakespeare wrote, and there are no parts rearranged or added in.

Out of the two films, I would prefer the Polanski version to the BBC version. There are a number of reasons for me doing so.

The Polanski version was more realistic than the BBC version because of the budget they had to work with.

The props, lighting, music and the costumes and the colour were all excellent. The props, the castle, the huge hall and the settings were of a typical Elizabethan castle, and were very convincing to the viewer. It provided them with a god insight as to what life was like in that era.

The BBC version was a theatrical piece of acting, the performances were very convincing but somewhat overreacted in certain parts. It had a number of very positive points but overall I preferred the Polanski version, the performances were restricted compare to that of the BBC version but still very successful. With the useful lighting and music and props, the ghost scene was made very authentic with the ghost actually appearing, where as in the BBC version he did not. The H chair was used instead to represent the ghost of Banquo.

If I were to produce this film I would make a few changes. I would keep the original setting as in the other two films because I fell it works very well with such a script.

I think the props are very important in a film, they set the mood, the atmosphere and give an appearance to the film so we can relate the props with the era the film is set in. I would have the castle walls, a huge hall, the table and seats for the guests and two bigger seats at either end of the table one of which would be Banquo’s. There would also be necessary background furniture and props to help set the scene.

Clothing would be as it was in that era. I would use tunics, robes, and other fine clothes of that time. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth would have a crown, jewellery and rich clothing to emphasise the role, and importance. All the guests would also be dressed in rich costumes because they are highly ranked and respected people of Scotland of that time. The servants and waiters would be in different clothing from the guests to distinguish between their ranks.

The colour would be lavish. There would be plenty of expensive rich colours, greens, reds, purples, gold, sliver and bronze. All the costumes would consist of spectacular colours and materials, and would look very extravagant. The servants would be dressed in black and grey. There would be a long tablecloth running down the middle of the table, red and green with gold and silver tassels. The windows would be stained glass with an array of different colours, with long curtains draped over them touching the ground. The table would be full of food and beverages of all kinds, colour and shape. There would be red to represent the brutality and the blood of Banquo, and the whiteness to represent him dead.

The music and the lighting are very effective when used in the ghost scene to accentuate what is happing and the music would provide the spooky atmosphere. It would come on when the ghost appears and stop when he disappears. The light will focus upon Macbeth and the ghost, drawing everyone’s attention to them and away from the rest of the cast.

I would stick to Shakespeare’s original text for Macbeth, but I would add in some extra parts if needed. Like Polanski, I would add in some new scenes, cast members or stage directions if necessary. I would have the wild animals, and the bird of pray on the shoulder of Banquo’s ghost, to symbolise the violence and brutality of the play itself. The bird of pray representing death.

I would have some famous people to act out the important roles. Special effects are very important so would need to be very realistic. I would have the ghost generated by a projector and when Macbeth reaches out to touch him or hit him to prove he isn’t insane, his hands will go through the ghost as he starts to fade away and has disappeared.

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