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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 8,296 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 ...
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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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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Roman Polanski originally sought Tuesday Weld for the role of Lady Macbeth. She refused to do a nude sleepwalking scene so he cast Francesca Annis in the part. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Macbeth: False face must hide what false heart doth know.
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Connections

Version of Macbeth (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Something wicked this way comes
5 June 2004 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Dark, bloody and brooding version of Shakespeare's play about a doomed Scottish king who was, according to his wife, Lady MacBeth "too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way". This is one of Shakespeare's later plays and is entirely devoid of some of the lighter moments prevalent in his earlier work.

Macbeth, a loyal Scottish thane and a cousin of King Duncan, is waylaid with his companion, Banquo, by three witches who prophesise that he will become king and that Banquo will beget kings. Once MacBeth has informed his wife of these predictions, he is propelled by her and by his own lust for power on a journey of self-destruction leading ultimately to madness. In his determination to bring about the witches' predictions, he kills his liege-lord, steals the crown from the rightful heirs, who flee into exile on suspicion of regicide and patricide, then orders the secret murder of ally and friend Banquo and Banquo's son Fleance. So begins a descent into a nightmare existence, replete with ghostly apparitions, sleepless angst and withering self-doubt. Gradually mutual distrust emerges between himself and the nobles whose support maintains his position, and eventually he murders the wife and children of one MacDuff, an act which symbolises the horror he has become. MacDuff, along with other Scottish nobles, has joined the exiled heir, Malcolm, who lives under the protection of the English king. An army of rebellion - or liberation - is brought to bear on MacBeth's stronghold, whilst inside, MacBeth has begun "to grow aweary of the sun". The witches have told him that he cannot be killed by any "man of woman born". But, in the final fight scene, he learns too late that MacDuff "was, from his mother's womb, untimely ripped" and that the witches have, in Banquo's words from the start of the play, won him "with honest trifles" and betrayed him "in deepest consequence", and his destruction is complete.

This is a suitably melancholic reading, full of images of blood, of sombre leaden skies, of torrential downpours and of thickset, bearded nobles. Scotland is presented as a gloomy outcrop on the edge of the known world and the sun has been heavily filtered by Polanski, giving the film a surreal and eerie feel and stressing the superstitious environment in which the play is set. We are also treated to a fair representation of the early Middle Ages, a time when travelling lords and ladies and their kith and kin slept communally on straw in the great halls, side by side with their massive hunting dogs.

The obviously archaic dialogue has been abridged and everso slightly updated for modern audiences. The lines are delivered eloquently by the two leads, Jon Finch and Francesca Annis, who are well matched as the doomed couple, and this clipped entry would be a good introduction to Shakespeare for those of the MTV-set with a literary inclination. All in all a good stab at bringing Shakespeare into the twentieth century and an effort which the bard himself might well have smiled upon.


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