Polanski's Macbeth: A Review

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“The actor's performances, while far from classic, are not detrimental to the film, though his choice to portray Lady Macbeth as soft-spoken and quiet downplays the manipulative nature Shakespeare established for her in the play... In an effort to preserve realism in the film, director Roman Polanski opted to change the traditional conveyance of Shakespeare's soliloquies and asides... The opening scene with the witches was rather poorly done. Polanski made the women look so grotesquely ugly that they distracted the audience from the important plot element of the scene: what they were saying. Unfortunately, this too was clouded: their screeching voices and constant giggling made them difficult to understand. A witness to the film unfamiliar with the play or Shakespearean dialogue would have been left without any idea as to the importance of the scene. This is unfortunate, as it is crucial to the rest of the plot. Unfortunately, the second witch scene was possibly worse than the first. What's worse than a distracting, ugly, witch? Forty distracting, ugly, naked witches. This scene came solely from Polanski's imagination, having no basis in Shakespeare (save the prophesies). The sheer nausea caused by the overwhelming grossness of the scene proved to be a distraction. However, the technology Polanski employed to portray the hallucinations was effective, and the speech of their predictions--unlike that of the original witches'--was clear and understandable. This proved effective, though the images of the witches' lair are sure to haunt the dreams of many in the audience.” (Lander, J 2006)
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