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Orson Welles' unique take on Shakespeare's classic tragedy.
Orson Welles' unique take on Shakespeare's classic tragedy.
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,…
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.
Deep shadows, smoke, witches, and Welles doing Shakespeare. What more could I want?
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…
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.
Continuing my Orson Welles filmography spree, and so far, "Macbeth" is my favorite out of what I've seen so far!
I also viewed "The Stranger" and "The Lady from Shanghai", but I didn't review those, because I didn't have much to say about them and to me they were just fine. Both were a little stifled, but had some good performances, cinematography and were for the most part decent.
But I digress, as I completely loved this adaptation of "Macbeth". I'm actually a pretty big fan of Shakespeare's writing, I love his wordplay, allusions, and unique structure of language practically inventing a language all his own! With Welles being a traditional Shakespearean actor, it was only a matter of time,…
Welles in his early 30’s could get it.
Whereas Othello engages with its vitality and rhythm, Welles's Macbeth is static, thick, slow and menacing. Not as striking and wondrous as its predecessor, but still incredibly fascinating, especially on a formal level. Welles's sanguine king belongs to the ranks of the best shakespearian performances ever on the silver screen.
It's always depressed me how quickly Orson Welles was cast aside by the major Hollywood studios. Macbeth was just the third film Welles would make and already his working with a woefully inadequate budget. Indeed, the film's costumes are noticeably cheap looking and the audio was also recorded separately, which sometimes works at giving the film an other-worldly feel, but other times it just seems shoddy. On the other hand, Welles' ability to work around a lack of resources is part of what makes his post-Ambersons films (sans Touch of Evil) so interesting. Through the use of impressionist sets, fog, and some ethereal camera work, Welles is not only able to create the sense of a world in spite of…
Seems like it was mainly made in studios, shot against black and some great map paintings. Welles is a great MacBeth. The film can feel a little stagey sometimes, and is definitely a little rough around the edges but when it’s good it’s really good, like the sequence of the witches second prophesy. The many great expressionist compositions.
I think I’ve seen a different version of the beginning, this one starts with Welles giving background on the historical setting.
Also, was MacBeth yelling “Satan”?
Not sure who is to blame here: the studio interference or Welles own ego....a broken film trough and trough but with enough great moments to elavate it to a 7/10. Thankfully he his next two Shakespeare adaptations are worth it.
Macbeth. I`m Love It.
Peter Strauss 85 films
Originally posted by Co.Create: www.fastcocreate.com/1679472/martin-scorseses-film-school-the-85-films-you-need-to-see-to-know-anything-about-film
Scorsese loves movies, we all know that. So he's got a few lists and they…