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’s Macbeth Vs. Shakear Essay, Research Paper

Critique of Roman Polanski’s Macbeth

Roman Polanski’s version of Macbeth, in my opinion, lived up to the Shakespeare’s play. Although there were many minor changes in the play the plot stayed the same. One commendable change on Polanski’s part was the way he sensationalized the violence. There weren’t that many violent scenes but those few very extremely violent. I had thought myself to be completely desensitized to violence until I watched this movie.

One of the first major changes was the battle in the beginning of the movie. In the play we weren’t shown the battle, we were only told of the outcome. In the movie we weren’t show the whole battle only remnants of it. The one thing that stuck in my mind from that battle was when that one soldier was checking for survivors. And when he found one he beat him to death with a mace. That scene set the tone for the rest movie. In the play the first violent act we encounter was the murder of the king, whereas in the movie the battle scene was the first “act” of violence. I think this was a good addition to the story because it was an early indicator as to the darkness of the play and the direction it was going in. It gave us a taste of things to come. I don’t think Polanski added this scene simply to increase the amount of violence, but as to prepare us for the rest of the play.

One major change was that of Lady Macbeth’s character. In the play we watched Lady Macbeth was the instigator. She was the driving force behind the death of Duncan. If it weren’t for her, Macbeth would not have killed the king. She seemed to control Macbeth and his actions throughout the whole of the play (or until he decided to kill Banquo and Fleance). The character in the play was ugly (both literally and figuratively) and sinister. In the play, Macbeth was Lady Macbeth’s hand puppet. She was the evil one. He was an honest man to his king and his country. He had only contemplated killing the king but later dismissed the thought. He seemed to be pure of heart. Lady Macbeth on the other hand was anything but. In the scene where she was asking the “spirits” to “unsex” she appeared to be as evil as the weird sisters were, if not more.

Yet in the movie Lady Macbeth was seemed to be an innocent woman. The first obvious change in character was the physical appearance of Lady Macbeth. In Polanski’s version she was young and beautiful. Whereas in the first play we watched she was old and ugly. As cold as it may sound beautiful people are depicted as innocent and pure. I think Polanski casted a prettier actress because he wanted to shift all feelings abhorrence towards Macbeth. He didn’t want people feeling any remorse for Macbeth so he made him entirely (arguably) responsible for his downfall. Personally, I didn’t care much for this change. I didn’t like the fact that Lady Macbeth seemed to be less of a catalyst and more of a bystander in the story. She is not the same character that Shakespeare created.

One of the most profound scenes of evil and hatred ever-depicted in Polanski’s movie was that of the raid on Macduff’s Castle. In the original play, a couple of murders storm the castle, kill the boy, and that’s the only violence in that scene. In the movie that scene was dramatically changed. At least ten murders stormed the castle. Macduff’s son was killed like in the play but the scene didn’t end there. When Lady Macduff ran out of the room we could see a servant being raped. We could hear the other people in the castle screaming while the murderers were laughing hysterically. We were also shown all of Macduff slain children. The castle was also burnt. Like in the play we do not see Lady Macduff being killed. I don’t know why Polanski chose not to show her murder. It’s not like he was sparing the audience any psychological distress. I believe Polanski’s intention was to make the audience dislike Macbeth. And it worked very well.

That change to the story was a very good one. After seeing that scene one can’t help but feel a great deal of hatred towards Macbeth. Macbeth became the embodiment of evil. Any feeling of remorse or sympathy for Macbeth was completely abolished.

All that said and done, I liked the movie a lot. And that is pretty good since I’ve rarely enjoyed a movie as much as the literary version. I would have made many of the same changes as the director had. An excellent rendition of an excellent play.