Sunday, January 16, 2011

Macbeth (Roman Polanski)

Torment, ambition and lust for power.

Film Review Archive (date seen: October 26, 2010)

Shakespeare's dialogues may not be that accessible these days, but Roman Polanski's rendition of his play about ambition wrapped within madness and paranoia is quite simply a great piece of cinema to behold.

It's great to hear the deep, flowery Shakesperean words, but what makes this film much more than a screen adaptation of one of his works is how Polanski has made it: Full of imagery bordering insanity and nightmare, performances teetering between stagy rhetorics and tragedy personified, the pure green fields of Wales as the stage for the depressing sight of the lonesome Cawdor castle, and the painful, furious emotions seemingly incorporated by Polanski himself (wife Sharon Tate being murdered just years prior to the filming of this picture).

Now, back to being "accessible", if I'm going to recommend a Shakespeare adaptation that can tell the story easily without the laborious chore of comprehending the playwright's complex language, then I'm going to say "Throne of Blood" by Akira Kurosawa, albeit it being set in feudal Japan. But if one wants to see the pure power of the play, heightened by a master filmmaker's great vision of Macbeth's slide into ruthless lunacy, then "thou shalt not look further". I do not know whether that came out sounding like one of the ten commandments, but there you go.


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