3 Answers | Add Yours
As far as I can tell, the main differences in Polanski's version is the portrayal of Lady Macbeth and the character of Ross. In Shakespeare's original, Ross is not an important character. Polanski's version really played him up and made him a real thug.
One thing that is added to the play which I think is really effective is the focus on the bear that is being baited, which is of course an important image in the play that Macbeth uses to describe his own situation at the end of the play. As #2 points out, the play is very bloody and sexual - things that are implicit perhaps in the play but really help us to understand the violence and "raw emotions" that are being revealed.
When I saw the movie, the most vivid differences were the sex and violence. Polanski puts lots of bloody violence on screen, including an amazing crossbow bolt to the forehead at one point. There's also more nudity in the film. (That's an understatement, since none of the stage versions I've seen had any.) Polanski in general anchors the film more, trusts the verse less. (He provides visual cues.) The pacing is different, with the visuals filling comparatively silent gaps.
One online commentator pointed out something I'd forgotten, namely that Polanski's Lady Macbeth didn't read the whole text of the crucial letter Macbeth sent her.
We’ve answered 330,422 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question