Roman Polanski's Interpretation Of The Witches And Shakespeare's Text

2436 words - 10 pages

Roman Polanski's Interpretation Of The
Witches and Shakespeare's Text

William Shakespeare wrote this pre-eminent Jacobean Tragedy for James
the 1st around 1603. The play is set in Scotland during the dark ages.
Shakespeare set the play in Scotland for the reason that James was
Scottish and his ancestors were kings during that time period in
Scotland. One of the major themes that can be seen throughout the play
is that of witchcraft and evil. This is a primary theme in the play as
James the 1st had a great belief in witchcraft and the powers they
possessed, he believed witches had conjured up storms and shipwrecked
him. To write the play Shakespeare used the Holinsheds chronicles as
his main resource. This was a book that contained records from the
dark ages of Scotland. In the same way Roman Polanski used
Shakespeare's text as his main resource to create his film. This is
evident in Polanksi's version as he sets the play during the same time
period Shakespeare set his Mac Beth.

As soon as we open act 1 scene 1, we immediately see the theme of the
subversion of nature and malevolence. The witches enter with thunder
and lighting in the background and instantaneously begin talking about
unsettling weather and war. Shakespeare uses the weather here to
create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. The witches speak in
trohain tetrameter, which is a very fast smooth moving metre. This
gives the feeling that they have telepathic powers. In Polanski's
version of the play he uses discordant music that's sounds like
howling and lamentings to set the scene of evilness and treachery. He
uses a panoramic camera angle that shows us mountains and shows you
that the sun is rising. The camera then swoops down like an eagle
ready for the slaughter, to the witches were we see that the weather
is now dark and tedious. This shows that the witches have influence
over forces of nature. We see this also in the text as they talk about
what genre of weather they shall meet in next "In thunder, lightning,
or in rain?".

In the stage directions in the text it says that the scene is set at
an open place. In the film version we see Polanski setting the scene
at a desolate beach with the wind howling in the background. As the
witches perform the scene Polanski has them casting a spell using body
parts and a hangman's noose. The noose symbolises a murderer and the
witches are using this murderer to entice another murderer Mac Beth
into their world of deceit and treachery. Polanski's interpretation of
this scene is very inventive as at the time there was an ongoing war
between islanders and the king, naturally this would mean the battles
would be fought near the sea. Therefore there would be a lot of death
in the area and the witches need body parts from the dead soldiers to
perform certain spells.


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