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A Scottish warlord and his wife murder their way to a pair of crowns.
A Scottish warlord and his wife murder their way to a pair of crowns.
My previous viewing of this on DVD on a tiny tube television prevented me from appreciating it as much as I did today. I've always thought of Welles' Othello as Shakespeare Noir, and now I see Macbeth as his Shakespeare Expressionist Horror. It looks more like James Whale's Frankenstein than your average, or even above average, Shakespeare adaptation. As Hannah noted on Twitter, the visual motif in Othello is one of traps and enclosures, while here it is wide open nightmare landscapes, shadows and fog. The rolling mist in the "tomorrow and tomorrow" soliloquy forms a visual rhyme with the smoke from the chimney in Citizen Kane as Rosebud burns. The search for meaning in identity and actions proves elusive,…
Deep shadows, smoke, witches, and Welles doing Shakespeare. What more could I want?
Film #35 of Project 40
”Life ... is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Hamlet wasn’t the only cinematic adaptation of a famous William Shakespeare play in 1948 and while Laurence Olivier’s version pleased the critics and won the major Academy Awards of the year the Orson Welles’ more melancholic and more penetrating adaptation didn’t get much attention and somehow lost the initial battle to its more popular sister. The general mood and atmosphere of Macbeth, like any other Shakespeare tragedy, is gloomy and sorrowful but with the high contrast, shadowy and somewhat mournful visual style of Welles the story of Macbeth and his notorious wife becomes even more tragic. Low-angle shots along…
What better movie to act as a come-down from a weekend of noir fever than one based on the original noir? Welles (also playing the lead and sporting some Jack Kirby facial hair) seems to dig the connection too, since he fills the movie with a lot of very sharp shadows covering an almost otherwordly environs - this is a land so detached from modern conveniences that they couldn't even make a comfortable crown.
When Orson Welles made Citizen Kane, after signing the most prestigious directing deal in Hollywood history, few would have expected that just six years later he'd be clomping around papier-mâché sets on the back lot of cheapo studio Republic with a saucepan on his head.
I'm exaggerating – the sets (designed by Welles but severely botched in execution) just look like papier-mâché, and the crown is more like a pasta strainer full of penises – but he is at Republic and oh-how-the-mighty-have-fallen.
After the debacle of The Lady from Shanghai, the truncated epic noir (that’s not a thing, Orson, what did you expect?) made via his last major lifeline, his ex-wife’s studio, Columbia, Welles shuffled off to Republic, a minor…
Welles’ experimental B-movie Macbeth is something of a miracle. He cut a deal with Republic Pictures, known best for singing cowboy oaters, for $700,000 to film his recent stage production using some some leftover sets, costumes that are an odd mix of Tartan, Tartar, and Statue of Liberty. For comparison, Olivier’s Hamlet, filmed contemporaneously had a $2.1MM budget. The result is uneven but such a visually powerful film that I think next time I will watch it on mute, perhaps with some favorite music playing.
Welles leans into phantasmagoria of the Shakespeare’s play. He sets it at the vortex of the old and the new religion. The witches cast a spell on a doll of Macbeth, which is a relict…
I don't know if I can ever think of a Shakespeare adaptation as a 100% bona fide classic, particularly in the somewhat stodgy pre-1960's era, but this one comes dang near close. This is mostly thanks to Orson Welles' brilliant feel for editing, camerawork, and staging. Welles realized that the audience was there to see A MOVIE, not just a filmed play, and he gives you one hell of a movie. Long tracking shots and creepy angles heighten the encroaching and claustrophobic horror of the proceedings, while sleight-of-hand camera tricks fool your eyes and scatter your brain. Also pretty wild that this is Jeanette Nolan's first film, seeing as how she might be the most fatale-y femme fatale of all time.
No boasting like a fool;
This deed I'll do before the purpose cool.
Orson Welles' Macbeth excels at some things and fails at others. It excels at mood. You needn't look further than The Magnificent Ambersons to see that Welles is a master of mood. Stone, light, shadow, and fog are anything but arbitrary here. The stone makes Macbeth feel small, the light makes him feel exposed, the shadow makes him feel doomed, and the fog makes him feel lost. This stage knows the language and it's awesome.
The biggest hitch is that Lady Macbeth feels wholly uninspired. She's horny for murder from the outset, which isn't exactly a betrayal of the text, but I never felt her point of…
First film watch of 2020! (Well, technically it was last night, but you know what I mean) Welles' film version of Macbeth was one I'd wanted to see for a long time and never quite gotten around to. It doesn't quite have the heft of some of his other Shakespearean work, maybe because of how it feels like it's taking place in its own universe, and some of the tweaks Welles made to Shakespeare's play, particularly the inclusion of the bald guy as an agent/representative of order and faith feel a bit more distracting than they do supportive of some of the themes in the story (it's a little unclear if Macbeth is an agent of evil or if he's…
As I was watching this, I kept thinking of Welles' Othello. That film is dominated by traps, prisons, enclosures, with objects almost always in the foreground. This one, on the other hand, is barren. The characters have nowhere to hide, except further into the darkness and the fog. In his intro, Tommy pointed out the political frustrations facing Welles at the time, calling it Welles' "punk rock" film, and it's absolutely evident in the paranoia and rage onscreen. Made on the cheap with borrowed materials and full of political and artistic rage, the punk rock analogy fits. Just add a few safety pins to Macduff's cloak.
Welles is THE MAN. Seriously; his grim interpretation towards Shakespeare is a fantastically visionary one, plaguing the landscapes of a 12th-century Scotland with macabre settings and asphyxiating shadows. Too bad his ambition became momentarily overwhelming, but the technical innovation present here make up for the minor flaws. When you watch a film by Orson Welles, you don't feel it's from the US; when you watch a Welles film of the 40s, it feels significantly ahead of its time.
full of scorpions
Gewaltig und zugleich minimalistisch. Die stark expressionistische Interpretation von Macbeth ist ein theatraler und fordernder Film von und mit Orson Welles, der vermutlich erst im Kino seine volle Wirkung entfalten kann.
Roman Polanski's Macbeth is perhaps my favorite of the Macbeth films I have seen, but this is still a masterpiece nonetheless, even if its way of adapting the Shakespearean text differs from the approach that Branagh and Olivier use (an approach which I prefer on principle). Orson Welles gives a crazed magnificence to the role of Macbeth, and the work he does with his eyes, capturing the torment and the fear and the crazy wildness and the growing isolation in his role, as well as the final embrace of courage and death.
John L. Russell's cinematography is brilliant because it combines both the quick-cutting that is characteristic of the Welles style, and includes close-ups that both are distinct in the…
Después de 4 películas en las que se notaba claramente la inspiración de Shakespeare, Orson Welles nos trae su primara adaptación del dramaturgo. Voy a decir que no creo que sea el mejor pasaje de una obra de teatro a la pantalla grande, los sets me parecen poco realistas y hay demasiado diálogo (y no es como si Welles no supiese contar una historia a través de las imágenes). Pero a pesar de eso, esta es sin dudad una de sus mejores obras. La dirección nunca había estado tan bien trabajada, con algunos de los mejores planos de toda la filmografía de Welles; y si no estabas seguro del talento de Orson como actor, esta cinta te va asacar de dudas. Me parece muy interesantes los temas de culpa y venganza que muestra el film, al igual que la ola de misterio que me produce pensar en las brujas.
- Love the lengths Welles goes to in order to try and make this look bigger than it is. A lot of them work, and the cavernous fabricated castle and copious use of fog, shadow and low angles double as mirrors of Macbeth's psyche. The Silent Hill of Macbeth adaptations, in that respect.
- Another limitation that works in Welles' favor is the slow-motion that's used to cover for missing footage and make voiceovers fit properly, but actually looks pretty cool at times.
- Impossible not to compare this to Throne of Blood, which is better all around. Probably the biggest advantage it holds is Kurosawa's streamlined narrative, which does away with MacDuff and Friends to focus exclusively on Mifune.
- Got some Episode III vibes here, both because Lucas stole a lot from Shakespeare for the prequels and because there are some more direct stylistic parallels I felt than I get from the play itself.
One of the better Macbeth movies. Like Citizen Kane, this movie uses lots of tricks to seem huge and expensive when it's actually small and cheap. Costumes, screaming monologs, cavernous atmosphere/sets, and Welles' eyebrows are only some of the reasons to see it.
Welles does descents into madness better than most
Visually incredible, but the story of Macbeth is deeply uninteresting to me. Probably my least favorite of all the Shakespeares I've read. It's boring to me! And the 'born of woman' plot twist is just so dumb. Macbeth is cancelled.
The closeups really turn a bare-bones set into a phantasmagorical nightmare palace. Welles is a mad man for trying out what he did here.
I feel like this could have been flawless if Orson Welles reigned his ego in long enough to cast someone who could actually do a Scottish accent in the role of Macbeth
Reminds me of my own maddening experience in Scotland
I've put off watching this thing for years thinking it would be pretentious as hell, but I couldn't but think of Val Lewton as I watched this low-budget but eerily effective "let's make the best of what we've got" version of Macbeth. Smoke and shadows. The Lady is effective a sort of noir dominatrix and I plan on watching this one again once I can get my hands on the restored version. An obvious influence on Kurosawa.
Part of my Macbeth Summer of Fear, Loathing, Social Distancing, and Police Brutality Private Film Fest.
Macbeth do Kurosawa >>>>>> Macbeth do Orson Welles
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