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Macbeth (1971)
"The Tragedy of Macbeth" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  13 October 1971 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 8,140 users  
Reviews: 131 user | 53 critic

A ruthlessly ambitious Scottish lord siezes the throne with the help of his scheming wife and a trio of witches.

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Title: Macbeth (1971)

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Stride ...
Nicholas Selby ...
...
Paul Shelley ...
Maisie MacFarquhar ...
Elsie Taylor ...
Noelle Rimmington ...
Noel Davis ...
Sydney Bromley ...
Richard Pearson ...
Patricia Mason ...
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Storyline

Roman Polanski's version of Shakespeare's tragedy about a Scottish lord who murders the king and ascends the throne. His wife then begins hallucinating as a result of her guilt complex and the dead king's son conspires to attack MacBeth and expose him for the murderer he is. Written by Jason Ihle <jrihl@conncoll.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

warrior | king | throne | tragedy | murder | See All (120) »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

13 October 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Macbeth  »

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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the set up of the gruesome death scene of Lady MacDuff's children, director Roman Polanski was instructing a four-year-old blonde girl on how to play dead, while smearing tons of fake blood all over her body. Polanski playfully asked the girl what her name was, to which she replied, "Sharon". See more »

Goofs

The lyrics to the song that Fleance sings at Macbeth's banquet for Duncan at Inverness are taken from the poem "Merciles Beautè" by Geoffrey Chaucer. In the context of the film this extraneously inserted song is itself an anachronism, as Chaucer lived in the fourteenth century and Shakespeare's "Macbeth" historically takes place in the eleventh century. See more »

Quotes

Three Witches: Double double, toil and trouble
Three Witches: Fire burn and cauldron bubble
See more »

Connections

Featured in William Shakespeare (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Murderous MacBeth
16 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

How does one do justice to one of the most nihilistic murderers in the history of drama? Even Richard the Third has a sense of humor. but once MacBeth buys into the witch's prophecy (which he doesn't have to do) - it's all straight to hell from there. Even his wife finally gets the idea that 'When you choose to ride the tiger, you don't get off' as one Confucian wit put it, long ago....

This is the film that put an end to the "high-school" Shakespeare that we all had to suffer through in the 1960s. That Shakespeare was dull, lifeless, meaninglessly conservative - everyone hated him. In America, we had heard about Peter Brooks, and about an all-nude MacBeth (which of course never happened, the reference was to the "out damn spot' scene, just as we see in this movie); and there were the legendary Orson Welles versions that were, unfortunately, wholly unavailable at the time. Then Zeffirelli made his Romeo and Juliet, showing Romeo's bare butt, even in the ad for the film, and we started getting the glimmer that Shakespeare had been a real person writing about other real people - then came Polanski's MacBeth.

I won't lie and tell you that this is the definitive MacBeth - or even that it's a really great movie - all of the actors seem like they are way over their heads in this material.

But Polanski's purely cinematic bravado pulls it off. Right from the beginning, watching a medieval warrior beat his opponent into a bloody pulp, we are drawn into a world where violence is the only truth we can believe - pretty much as MacBeth himself sees it.

From this point on, there was no turning back. The Shakespeare we inherit from this film may not be the one we want, but he is certainly a playwright of Elizabethan England (which the "high-school" Shakespeare never was).

That makes this film really important - at least until the definitive version actually gets made (and it hasn't, yet...).


21 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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