An Analysis of Shakespeare and Cinema

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Zilinszki Anna-Krisztina
1styear, SGPC
Beginning from the Lady Macbeth’s speech analyse, I decided to write my research paper about Shakespeare and Cinema. When it is said that an author’s works have a universal appeal, what is meant is that his works are capable of striking a chord with readers all over the world, cutting across all kinds of boundaries by which people segregate themselves. In other words, the story being told and the themes being explored in those works find relevance in all lands and ages. There are many authors who can be said to have produced such works, but the name that tops the list is undoubtedly that of William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon. That he is acknowledged to be the world’s preeminent dramatist not just in England but across the globe, and that his plays continue to be studied, performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts, bears testimony to the fact that while he wrote about specific people, places and eras, his treatment of them almost negates that specificity and endows them with the universality that made Ben Jonson say that Shakespeare is “not of an age, but for all time.” We could easily add that he was not of any country either, but of all lands. The universal appeal of Shakespeare’s plays can be understood upon studying some of the film adaptations of his works. In the play and film versions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, women are given a fairly large amount of agency or power. Interestingly enough, the women control not only their own destiny, but also that of our hero himself, Macbeth. Femininity, particularly that of the maternal, is a very widely used them in the play and films. The prominent female figures are the witches and Lady Macbeth. The three witches in the tragedy are introduced right at the beginning of the play and the brief opening scenes give an immediate impression of mystery, horror and uncertainty. The witches create an atmosphere of evil and disorder. Everything that the witches do implies otherworldly power and a sense of inescapable and enchanting evil. However Banquo does not seem to be drawn into this spell. Banquo says in act 1 scene 3 line 124: "The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray's in deepest consequence." Banquo's idea of the witches is obviously one of mistrust and misgiving. He calls them instruments of darkness and the devil. He sees beyond the witches and can see that they are evil, whereas Macbeth is taken in by the witches. Their feminine spell has ensnared him. It is Macbeth's interest in the sisters that motivates him to listen to and speak with them. Had Macbeth followed his friend's advice and left the witches before they spoke, the tragedy may have never occurred. Later on in the play after he has let their prophecy determine his actions, he again seeks them out and asks them to speak into his life or control his future and destiny. The adaptations of Macbeth that I seek to discuss are Roman Polanski’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool, which transport Shakespeare’s “Scottish tragedy” to feudal Japan and Mumbay underworld respectively. The Roman Polanski version of the film somewhat depicts this feminine power; however he chooses to not make it as apparent as Shakespeare or Kurosawa. The very beginning of the film features the witches, showing their importance and significance. As they bury their foreshadowing treasure, the old blind witch pours blood on the sand as the conclusion of whatever black ceremony they had just performed. This blood not only represents the death and destruction that is about to occur, but also the menstrual blood of a woman. The blood is used to as if to seal the spell, to give it the power to work. They also add blood as the final ingredient to the potion they mix...
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