Macbeth

by: William Shakespeare

Movie Adaptations

Macbeth, 1948
Director: Orson Welles
Notable cast: Orson Welles, Jeannette Nolan

This black and white film features some minor changes to the original play along with significant edits. Welles increased the purpose and presence of the three Witches in the movie to play up the conflict between early Christianity and pagan beliefs in Scotland. Welles also emphasized the violence of the story: the film depicts Lady Macbeth’s suicide and the final battle that ends with Macbeth’s beheading by Macduff. Welles also wanted all of the characters to speak with authentic Scottish accents, but the studio that produced the film insisted that the voices be dubbed after the film was completed.

Macbeth, 1972
Director: Roman Polanski
Notable cast: John Finch, Francesca Annis

This X-rated film of the play features a nude sleepwalking scene by Lady Macbeth and plenty of onscreen violence. Polanski also emphasizes the passage of time – the events of play span several years, and the Macbeths visibly age over the course of the movie.

Macbeth, 2010
Director: Rupert Goold
Notable cast: Patrick Stewart, Kate Fleetwood

Patrick Stewart, better-known to many as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek, stars in this adaptation of a well-received stage production of the play. Director Goold sets the action in purgatory, making the story a cautionary tale about the dangers of ambition.

Macbeth,2015
Director: Justin Kurziel
Notable cast: Michael Fassbender,Marion
Cotillard.

This recent adaptation was filmed in Scotland, and opens with the funeral of the Macbeth’s dead son. This plot device links the couple’s thirst for power to their grief over losing their child, and makes the couple initially sympathetic to the audience.