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Macbeth (1971)

The Tragedy of Macbeth (original title)
A ruthlessly ambitious Scottish lord seizes the throne with the help of his scheming wife and a trio of witches.



(screenplay), (play) | 1 more credit »

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



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


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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 December 1971 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Macbeth  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,100,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the promotion work for " Diamonds are Forever ", Sean Connery told journalists that he had written a Macbeth screenplay, but was waiting to see how Polanski's version fared, before he went ahead with his. See more »


When Macbeth dines after Banquo's death, time freezes for 5-10 seconds as Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost sitting at the table. This is achieved by the other actors freezing in place until Macbeth drops his chalice. During the time freeze, a man sitting at the table and facing the camera blinks his eyes. See more »


Three Witches: Fair is foul and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air.
See more »


Version of Macbeth (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

Stirring and violent retelling of a classic Shakespeare story
8 February 2006 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

"The Tragedy of Macbeth" (simply abbreviated "Macbeth" on most video covers) is a violent retelling of Shakespeare's classic story. Macbeth (Jon Finch), the Scottish Thane of Glamis, conspires with his wife Lady Macbeth (and three strange witches) to kill the widely-respected King Duncan. After committing the awful deed, Macbeth begins hallucinating, hearing strange omens of death and haunting words; his wife similarly becomes worried with Macbeth's bloodlust, and Duncan's son convinces himself that Macbeth was involved in some way with the killing.

"Macbeth" is a true tragedy, and chances are you already know a great deal about it as it seems to be a high school requirement that it be read by all students. The remarkable thing about Roman Polanski's movie is that it is not only a painfully accurate retelling of William Shakespeare's story, but doesn't flinch when it comes to violence.

According to IMDb's trivia section (and I can't honestly say how reliable this information is, mind you), Polanski included very violent scenes (such as Duncan's death, which is NOT detailed in the original text) because the movie was filmed around the same time period of Sharon Tate's brutal murder, and it was Polanski's way of venting stress and anger. One must imagine what happens to Duncan in this film is what Polanski wanted to do to the Manson family members (and you certainly can't blame him).

As such, knowing the circumstances of what brought about the violence, it is more forgivable and certainly maintains a haunting element - some kind of historical relic, just in knowing that it was filmed during such a terrible time in Polanski's life.

The movie as a whole is wonderful. As I mentioned above, its accuracy (in comparison to Shakespeare's text) is spot-on -- entire scenes of dialogue are taken directly from the source, and even the strong violence lends the film a more realistic nature.

Overall, it's an epic and (sadly) somewhat forgotten Shakespeare epic. If you enjoyed "Hamlet" or "Romeo and Juliet" (the '60s version) you'll certainly find this engaging, and - at times - rather shocking, too.

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

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