When this version of Macbeth was released in 1971 and it was noted that Hugh Hefner and the Playboy empire had a stake in it, it was roundly rejected as a serious Shakespeare film. However, over the last few decades, it has come to be appreciated as one of the finer interpretations of Shakespeare's shortest play. Roman Polanski's choices are at the opposite spectrum from Orson Welles'. Polanski portrays the Macbeths as a loving couple caught up in political games. Jon Finch's Macbeth is reluctant to become involved with the witches, who here are portrayed as old and blind, middle aged, and young and nubile. These witches are part of a coven who perform their rituals in the nude, and who have only some control over events. The murder of Duncan is shown in graphic, bloody detail, the only such visualisation on film. Lady Macbeth's suicide is also shown. But perhaps the most spectacular surprise is the rolling of Macbeth's head down the lane after it is severed from his body. The film also has a twist at the end, which, although not in the text, may be strongly suggested by Shakespeare. Unlike Welles' unrelenting film noir landscape, Polanski makes full use of magnificent cinematography to push the narrative to its inescapable end. Set in a traditional medieval period, this one is a must-see. - J.R. Costa
Cast: Cast: Macbeth: Jon Finch; Lady Macbeth: Francesca Annis; Banquo: Martin Shaw; Macduff: Terence Bayler; Ross: John Stride; Duncan: Nicholas Selby; Malcolm: Stephen Chase; Donalbain: Paul Shelley; Blind Witch: Maisie MacFarquhar; 1st Witch: Elsie Taylor; Young Witch: Noelle Rimmington; Seyton: Noel Davis; Porter: Sydney Bromley; Doctor: Richard Pearson; Gentlewoman: Patricia Mason; Murderers: Michael Balfour, Andrew McCullough; Fleance: Keith Chegwin; Lennox: Andrew Laurence; Angus: Bernard Archard; Caithness: Bruce Purchase; Mentieth: Frank Wylie; Lady Macduff: Diane Fletcher; Macduff's Son: Mark Dightam; King's Grooms: Bill Drysdale, Roy Jones; Cawdor: Vic Abbott; Minor Thanes: Ian Hogg, Geoffrey Reed, Nigel Ashton; Young Seyward: William Hobbs; Old Seyward: Alf Joint; Boy Apprentice: Paul Hennen.
Director: Director: Roman Polanski; Writers: Roman Polanski, William Shakespeare, Kenneth Tynan. Producers: Andrew Braunsberg, Hugh N. Hefner. Production Companies: Caliban Films, Playboy Productions Inc.
Colour. Runtime: 140 mins.
Did this raise a question for you?