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Act 1 Scene 1 Film Version Of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

1851 words - 7 pages

Act 1 Scene 1 Film Version of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

In Elizabethan England, witches and the supernatural were a very
genuine threat to everyday life. They were recognised as an antithesis
to the divinely ordained order of the universe, often attributed with
unexplained disease to neighbours and to livestock, as quoted in Act
1, Scene 3 when the second witch notifies the others that she has been
'killing swine'. The Elizabethan population did not commonly believe
that witches were born supernatural beings, rather that they gained
their powers by selling their souls to Satan. Indeed, this play was
extremely relevant to modern life around the time of its first
production. James I was personally terrified yet fascinated by witches
after an attempt on his life by Agnes Sampson, a convicted witch. This
led to the practice of witchcraft becoming punishable by death. A
theme of such forbidden ideas, shrouded in the mystery of the
supernatural would surely have horrified those watching the play yet
left them intrigued.

The witches embody a malign and demonic intelligence. They utilise
this to guide the main themes and characters within the play, notably
by their reversal of nature when chanting 'Fair is foul and foul is
fair'. These unnatural deeds are reflected in Shakespeare's depiction
of the witches as 'women with beards'. They are 'withered' in
appearance and symbolise sterility and death by how they look and the
deeds they commit. It can be disputed whether the witches are real,
physical beings or a figment of the imagination. Shakespeare's
audiences would have undoubtedly believed in witches, yet his
portrayal of the hallucinatory power of the imagination is also
compelling.

As director of a new film version of 'Macbeth', I have decided to
modernise the play in order to make it easier to relate to for modern
audiences. Medieval Scotland has become modern day Scotland. I have
decided to remain almost entirely faithful to Shakespeare's original
text, changing very few lines. I have cast gypsies in place of
witches, as these people are still very much a part of modern culture,
yet there is still an air of mystery about them, such as the
stereotypical gypsy fortune-teller. I chose Act 1 Scene 1 as it is the
first and one of the most important scenes in the play, setting the
tone of the play and shaping much of the remaining storyline. I feel
it should be presented in a disturbing, chilling way to make a
dramatic opening for the film and to unsettle the audience slightly.

The scene begins in 'an open place'. I feel this is not as effective
as enclosing the three gypsies. Placing the three gypsies in an
extremely dark, narrow alley would give the audience an uncomfortable
sense of claustrophobia in being 'so close' to these evil women.
Hence, my opening camera shot...

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