Macbeth vs Scotland, Pa

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The thin line between tragedy and dark humor.

William Shakespeare's Macbeth has always been considered one of the literary worlds most celebrated tragedies. It is arguably the darkest and most gruesome of his plays. The protagonist, Macbeth, is the poster child for tragic hero, "a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy" ( And until recently we were satisfied with that… At the Cannes Film Festival in 2001, a low budget comedy was unveiled. It was called Scotland, PA. This film was written by a first-time director, Billy Morrissette, and depicts the familiar story in a surprisingly different form. The premise of the plot is held in tact but the setting is shifted several hundred years, to the 1970s. The characters' names even remain familiar. The dialogue is contemporary English yet you can still recognize the similarities in conversation. Major themes from the original work – revenge, guilt, self doubt, fate, and prophecy still exist in this manipulated adaptation. "He (Morrissette) is able to make an interesting point about how the difference between tragedy and comedy is often how the material is viewed by the audience".(Berardinelli) Prior to Morrissette's Scotland, PA, Roman Polanski brought his adaptation of Macbeth (1971) to the silver screen. This more traditional adaptation follows the plays blueprint. The setting remains unchanged, as well as the plot and dialogue. This movie was made soon after a horrifically traumatic events in Polanski's life, the heinous murder of his pregnant wife by members of the ‘Charlie Manson family'. The film may have been a therapeutic outlet for him. The extremely gory murder scenes may have been a result of his attempts to deal with his pain and show give insight into the horror that filled his life at the time. Polanski's adaptation definitely added a horror flick tone with the...
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