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The Tragedy of Macbeth

Shakespeare’s Tale of greed, tragedy, murder, magic and mystery

The Tragedy of Macbeth
We have all heard it a hundred times, Macbeth's despairing complaint about life: " ... it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." But who has taken it more seriously than Roman Polanski, who tells his bloody masterpiece at precisely the level of the idiot's tale?

Macbeth always before seemed reasonable, dealing with a world in which wrongdoing was punished and logic demonstrated. It all seemed so clear. But in this film Polanski and his collaborator, Kenneth Tynan, place themselves at Macbeth's side and choose to share his point of view. All those noble, tragic Macbeths -- Orson Welles and Maurice Evans and the others -- look like imposters now, and the king is revealed as a scared kid.

Everyone in the film seems to be pushed by circumstances; there is small feeling that the characters are motivated by ideas. They seem so ignorant at times that you wonder if they understand the wonderful dialogue Shakespeare has written for them. It's as if the play has been inhabited by Hell's Angels who are quick studies.

All of this, of course, makes Polanski's "Macbeth" more interesting than if he had done your ordinary, respectable, awe-stricken tiptoe around Shakespeare. This is an original film by an original film artist, and not an "interpretation." It should have been titled Polanski's Macbeth, just as we got "Fellini Satyricon."

I might as well be honest and say it is impossible to watch certain scenes without thinking of the Charles Manson case. Polanski's characters resemble Charles Manson: They are anti-intellectual, witless, and driven by deep, shameful wells of lust and violence. **** (R. Ebert)

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Sat & Sun October 29 & 30, 2005, 7:00 only, Muenzinger Auditorium

140min, UK, 1971, English, R, Color

recommend

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