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Macbeth (1998)

TV Movie  -  15 January 1998 (UK)
6.3
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English thespian Sean Pertwee plays the painfully ambitious royal who schemes to murder so he can ascend to the throne in this superior version of William Shakespeare's literary classic. ... See full summary »

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Title: Macbeth (TV Movie 1998)

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English thespian Sean Pertwee plays the painfully ambitious royal who schemes to murder so he can ascend to the throne in this superior version of William Shakespeare's literary classic. Spurred by the pressure exerted by his equally power-hungry wife, Lady MacBeth (Greta Scacchi), the Thane conspires to kill, but is so overcome with guilt that he's unable to wash the blood off his hands -- literally and figuratively. Written by Polly_Kat

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Fine Cast, Lean and Mean
26 June 2001 | by (Backwoods Canada) – See all my reviews

This is a trimmed-down version of Macbeth (running at less than 1.5 hours) presented by a group of lesser-known but extremely competent actors. The cuts mean that the action is fast-paced with little chance to breathe.

The setting is modern-ish and slightly surreal and surprisingly sunny and bright for this usually dark and murky play. Even the garbage dump which represents the "heath" where the witches hang out is set amid green fields and a placid lake.

On the upside is the performance of Greta Scacchi who is a frighteningly intent and edgy Lady M. The scenes between the Macbeths are breathtaking: her energy seems to infuse Pertwee who is subdued without her.

On the downside, Pertwee cannot get past a kind of manic anger in the final scenes. There is no sense that Macbeth realizes the depth to which he has sunk, that his soul is irredeemably compromised. In the end he should be like the figures in Michaelangelo's Last Judgement, being dragged to Hell while realizing what they have lost and cannot now get back. Pertwee's Macbeth keeps on heading straight for Hell as fast as he can get there. In the end we experience no regret or sense of tragedy in his demise.

Notwithstanding this flaw, this is a gripping and watchable film which is well worth the effort.


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