Old 09-16-2001, 11:48 AM
"Macbeth" (10/10) [Polanski Version]

A Brief Brock Landers Look At The Bard's Ultimate Film (10/10)

Macbeth: "Nothing is but what is not."

Macbeth: "Is this a dagger I see before me?"
Brock Landers: "You bet yer ass it is dude!"

I first came across this under-seen miracle of modern filmmaking on the Independent Film Channel during a tribute to director Roman Polanski, and then I hunted down a virginal copy of it on videotape to keep and treasure for my own, it's place in my film treasury's wall of fame secured for all time.

Three Witches: "Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble."

Macbeth is not sqeaky clean. He is the lifeblood of villains, evil and conniving, ambitious and blood-thirsty, but certainly the most passionate and imaginative character of Shakespeare's making. And in Polanski's masterpiece "Macbeth", he comes alive as Jon Finch's best performance ever. (Even better than Hitchcock's "Frenzy") He is at once complex and serpentine, turning from a good sort to a self-serving menace to his brethren in a moment's notice. He loses everything... his sanity, his morals, his mind... in his painstaking evolutionary role. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Blind Witch: "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!"

The wonderful thing is that MacBeth is driven not only by his own interior motives and madness, but by his wife, a real bitch who insults and depricates her way to the top by forcing macBeth to take action. She starts off a loving wench, then becomes a bit of a shrew, through the exchanges with MacBeth.

Malcolm: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it."

Polanski is a true master, taking Shakespeare literally when he said "Blood will have blood". This film is the most stark and bloody adaptation of Shakespeare ever, and certainly the best decapitation ever on celluloid.

Macbeth: "Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Some say that the slaughter of Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate in August of 1969 by Charles Manson created this film less than two years later, and I certainly wouldn't doubt it. Nothing is made subtle. We see the main character deteriorate and turn into a man bent on hell-spun vengeance. Polanski makes the ancient words come alive with his interpretation, focusing on MacBeth's tranformation into a real bastard.

Macbeth: "False face must hide what false heart doth know."

I'm totally with macBeth... MacDuff was an asshole who needed some death in his family, and Fleance was just as much of a bitch just waiting to be toppled. The only thing that really wierded me out about this film was the 75-year old naked woman, but even so, she produced the required effect in aces.

For those of you bored by Shakespeare, this film is for you. The most exciting and fresh translation ever... including the wonderful if depressing Ethan Hawke "Hamlet" of last year. The background is superb, it's like they really used a castle from the time of macBeth, and everything is so muddied and groggen. (I like to make up words... so sue me) The whole film feels like mud... depressing and damp, yet full of vigorous afterbirth. This film even out-fucks "Taxi Driver" and Finch is every bit as sick as De Niro, and that is a good thing. Full of sound and fury, this film forces Shakespeare into the modern terrain of fucked-up sensibilities.

Lady Macbeth: "Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under't."

Violent and gratuitous, Polanski's "Macbeth" will make the most jaded film-goer sit up and prick the air with his wide-spun eyes and livid breath. If you can stop being so damned politically correct for one moment, you will dig the nudity and gore this film produces. The opening scene is amazing and the bleak backdrop of the UK does wonders for this flick as do the castles, Lindisfarne and Bamburgh to be exact, in Northumberland, England.

Macbeth: "To know my deed 'twere best not know myself."

Macbeth has always been a violent and intelligent play, but Polanski turns it more into a twisted head-fuck of the likes we will possibly never see again. At once hallucinatory yet realistic, it comes out more like a documentary than a drama. It's "Blair Witch III" except this time the witch is naked and old and wrinkly and there's no snot coming out of Lady Macbeth's nose. Finch's beard rules as well and doesn't a beard always do wonders for being evil?

[This message has been edited by Brock Landers (edited 09-16-2001).]
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Old 09-16-2001, 01:17 PM
I'm so glad you gave it a good review Brock, cause I've been wanting to see this for a long time. Good review by the way.
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Old 09-16-2001, 01:27 PM
It's definitely worth a look-see Fergus... My favorite Shakespearean adaptation and one of the grisliest films ever. I didn't even know who Jon Finch WAS before this film, but after, I am compelled by his brilliance. Fucking Shakespeare... that bastard of conceit... I love him so. "Get off my ass, you wee bitty fuck, if I write a review, your shit out of luck. Who's that girl? That pretty young thing? After I fuck her she'll get up and sing."

Anybody else seen this film?

[This message has been edited by Brock Landers (edited 09-16-2001).]
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Old 09-16-2001, 03:16 PM
I loved this film it was the first thing I ever watched by Shakespeare cause my class was reading the book the whole movie has a great look to it and the cinematographer is one of my favorites his name is Gil Taylor and he's done numerous classics like Dr.Strangelove ,The Omen ,Star wars and Frenzy the only thing that bothered me was that Polanski decided to not have the characters talk out all the time sometimes you her what their thinking and that didn't appeal to me as much as when they just say what's on there mind out loud.
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Old 09-16-2001, 05:52 PM
I think a lot of the subliminal rhetoric by the actors was based on Polanski's own feeling about his wife's death... he didn't want to say it outright, but he had no problem feeding it to his characters.

Lady Macbeth: "Things without all remedy should be without regard. What's done is done."
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Old 09-16-2001, 10:17 PM
Nice to see other fans of Polanski's MACBETH(9/10)- as stated in the TITUS thread this is my personal fave in the world of Shakespearian cinema adaptions.

Have to agree that Polanski was definetly working out personal demons onscreen. The audience has no choice but to be dragged along for the ride into blood, lust and madnes.

Another great review Brock, GG
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Old 05-23-2003, 09:22 PM

I really have a hard time with Shakespeare. His dense, arcane language just gives me a headache, whether it's in print or on film. For example, Titus was very skillfully made, but the dialouge and garish style conspired to leave me cold, and from my persective it ended up being more of an exercise than a dramatic story. By far, the 1996 version of Romeo & Juliet is the only one that really drew me in.

I admired Roman Polanski's Macbeth, but I really can't say I enjoyed it. I often had trouble figuring out what was going on, though the story was very straightfoward. However it's a more solid film than The Ninth Gate or the overrated Rosemary's Baby (to which this film bears a very strong thematic and stylistic resemblance). The material is undeniably suitable for the director's sensibilities, and in the long run it's probably one of his better films.

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Old 05-24-2003, 12:06 AM
Polanski's MACBETH 9/10

My favourite of teh bigscreen adaptions of the bards work. Clearly Polanski was going through personal crisis and sorrow when making this film and its all up on the screen to enhance his interpretation of this epic tragedy.

Great film and must see for shakespearian fans everywhere
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Old 05-25-2003, 05:00 PM
MACBETH - (7/10)

I first viewed this movie in a class room and then on TV. Its very entertaining. I dont usually find Shakepsearian movies as enjoyable as this. I think Hugh Hefner was attached to this too. One of the best decapitation scenes too!
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Old 05-26-2003, 07:46 PM
Good adaptation...and the dvd transfer is very much worth owning.
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