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A Performance of Macbeth (1979)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 609 users  
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Macbeth is a daring member of the Scottish military who receives a revelation from three menacing sorceresses that he will someday become the King of Scotland. This information gives him a ... See full summary »

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Title: A Performance of Macbeth (TV Movie 1979)

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Macbeth is a daring member of the Scottish military who receives a revelation from three menacing sorceresses that he will someday become the King of Scotland. This information gives him a thirst for power, and with prompting from his wife, Lady Macbeth, he kills the current leader in order to take the throne. But he must continue to commit murders to keep his actions a secret, and soon, no one is safe. Written by Polly_Kat

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A Performance of Macbeth by William Shakespeare  »

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This was filmed on a circular stage. See more »

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Version of Macbeth (1946) See more »

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An excellent, austere version of the play
21 October 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If the production of a play is very popular or well received by critics it can sometimes be put on film. That is the case with this version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Originally done for television from Trevor Nunn's stage production, it is a bared-down to the bone interpretation driven not by spectacle but by raw acting. It is as if you are watching first-rate theater right in front of you.

Ian McKellen is brilliant as Macbeth as he captures his gradual decent into madness very effectively and with much nuance. The twitchy, nervous nature that he gives in his performance is just right for a man full of ambition, guilt, and fear. Judi Dench's portrayal of Lady Macbeth is a performance that is as great if not more so than McKellen's. She is a manipulative, frightening, and yet very human individual. Her famous sleepwalking scene is the finest piece of acting you will ever see. Ian McDiarmid (best known as The Emperor in Star Wars) is wonderful in the dual role of both Ross and The Porter. Also, Roger Rees, John Woodvine, and Bob Peck give fine performances as well.

What is particularly remarkable is the minimalist way in which it is all done. The setting is all pitch-black. There are very little props and the costumes are relatively simple in fact they never change. It is filmed with both imaginative lighting and with many close ups. On whole, this interpretation is one that is intentionally stark and claustrophobic. This probably how theater would have been like during Elizabethan times. Much is suggested rather than being presented. Yet, this makes sense since Macbeth is a play in which Shakespeare's words can creates images for you to picture for yourself.

The Polanski film is perhaps the best cinematic version of the Bard's bloody masterpiece but if you want to watch the best one done for the stage, then this might be it.


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