Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are the differences between Macbeth the play and Macbeth the movie, directed by Roman Polanski?

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Any adaptation of Shakespeare will be an interpretation, and I'm not sure it even makes sense to talk about differences from the text, as this presumes there's one "right" version of the play. Shakespeare, of course, was writing for the stage, so any film will look different and have more resources than Shakespeare had. The Polish director Roman Polanski, working with critic Kenneth Tynan, adapted Macbeth in 1971, shooting on location in the British Isles.

Perhaps the most striking features of his version is the violence. It is a violent play, but this is by far the bloodiest film version. The violence has greater resonance knowing that this was the first film Polanski made since the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, by the Manson Family in 1969. So the violence feels contemporary. In the play we only hear about the execution of the traitor the Thane of Cawdor, while Polanski shows it. It is Cawdor's execution which leads to Macbeth's promotion.

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