Reflection On Four Different Versions Of William Shakesepare's Macbeth

2072 words - 8 pages

Reflection on Four Different Versions of William Shakesepare's Macbeth

I have watched the opening scenes of four productions of the
Shakespeare play 'Macbeth'. The four versions are as follows:

1. Orson Wells- 1948 (an attempt to film in 21 days with paper-Mache
sets)

2. Roman Polanski- 1971

3. BBC Macbeth- 1980's

4. Macbeth on the Estate- 1997 "Performance"

I am going to review scenes, visual effects and casting of the
characters Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Duncan. I will also comment on
which version is the most enjoyable, the most relevant and finally the
most intriguing. I will review and comment on only three of the
versions, versions 1, 2 and version 4. I will do each version one by
one, but will compare them at certain points.

Orson Wells

The Orson Wells version was filmed in 21 days in 1948. It was filmed
for screening in the cinema. This explains the general lack of concern
for detail, the paper-Mache sets and the un-professionalism of the
actors speeches and delivery. People can easily switch off a
television but to walk out of a cinema is harder to do after you have
paid for it. The film is in black and white which at the time wasn't a
problem but nowadays is not as exciting. Also big parts of the text
are missed out in this version, probably because of the 21 day
deadline. For example, the whole of act 1 scenes 1 and 2 are deleted
from the text, we also see a mistake where one character interrupts
another. The lines have been re-arranged. We see this when Banquo says
his lines after the prophecies where in the text he says them before
the prophecies. Another example is when Banquo actually says lines
that are assigned to Macbeth in the text. Another point is the budget
which becomes apparent to us immediately as the costumes give a feel
that Wells has just raided the costume department. The costumes are
very crude and not accurate at all. If you look carefully you can see
famous costumes such as ghengis kahn or Alexander the Great. A
religious improvisation is given when the witches leave as a cross is
held high and used to threaten them, which works, showing the
importance of Christ. The witches are also a subject of the soundtrack
like when the witches are mentioned or anything to do with them,
thunder and lightning effects when things related to them are
mentioned for example when lady Macbeth reads the letter from her
husband we experience quite spooky audio and not just audio, but
visual effects. The letter starts with Macbeth dictating to a scribe,
which is where he gives his soliloquy, to everyone not to himself like
in other productions, during this spooky music plays along with the
occasional crackle. Then, cross cuts to a scene of Lady Macbeth
reading the letter as in the traditional view. We also see another
change in the script; the...

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