7.6/10
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22 user 4 critic

A Performance of Macbeth (1979)

| Drama | TV Movie
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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Cast

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John Bown ...
Susan Dury ...
Judith Harte ...
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David Howey ...
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Marie Kean ...
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Duncan Preston ...
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Stephen Warner ...
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Storyline

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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1.33 : 1
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This was filmed on a circular stage. See more »

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Version of Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Primarily for ardent Shakespeare fans
11 November 2007 | by (Boulder, CO) – See all my reviews

This is about as spare a production of a Shakespeare play as you are likely to get. It is really more of a reading of the play than a performance. It is listed as being in color, but the colors are so muted that I had to check that my TV was not broken, since it looked pretty much like black and white to me.

Anyone coming to this production cold is going to be quite confused and will most likely abandon the effort.

The acting is stagy - you might say that this film sets the standard for the definition of that word. This will definitely not be for all tastes. As good an actor as McKellen is I could never connect with him in this performance, though he does do a great job on some of the soliloquies, particularly the one ending with "it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing." I was much more engaged by McKellen during his talks about the performance on the DVD extras than I was by his performance in the film. Dench's Lady Macbeth was too shrill for me.

There are some interesting innovations, like "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble," being sung as a Gregorian Chant throughout most of Act IV, Scene 1. Other scenes did not work as well for me, such as the opening shot where the camera pans around the circle of actors. Having some text describing the characters that the actors were portraying would have been helpful, but I saw little significance to this as it is. And the loud organ music I found distracting and inconsistent with the production.

There are some casting problems. Roger Rees as Malcomb, dressed in his knit turtleneck sweater, looks more like he just came out of a fraternity party than being the leader of a large army.

Purists will hurl stones at me for saying it, but I much prefer Polanski's cinematic. "The Tragedy of Macbeth."

McKellen is quoted as saying that this is Shakespeare on the cheap. I think that the statement "You get what you pay for," might apply here.


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