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Macbeth (1998)

TV Movie  |  15 January 1998 (UK)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 117 users  
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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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Not a memorable Macbeth
9 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

Greta Scacchi is a great favorite of mine. So is Shakespeare. So when I discovered that she had done a Macbeth, I immediately ordered the DVD (which was a double feature, also containing a thoroughly marvelous 2003 version of Twelfth Night, which made it plentily worth the price of admission). Unfortunately, this Macbeth was a disappointment. Greta Scacchi herself was good; absolutely the best thing about it. She spoke the words with more confidence and ease than the other cast members, and you have to bow down in awe and reverence to an actress who can deliver "He that's coming must be provided for: and you shall put this night's great business into my dispatch; which shall to all our nights and days to come give solely sovereign sway and masterdom" with complete naturality and without pausing to breathe! Whoa!

However, the remaining cast, and the no-budget modern setting, clearly derivative of Loncraine's Richard III (and perhaps a bit of Luhrmann's R+J), were utterly colorless and unconvincing. Now, I have always liked Sean Pertwee. I consider him a serious and intense actor whose screen presence I am frequently very comfortable with. But not here. He wasn't terrible, but he certainly wasn't anything to write home about, either. Maybe it was the silly goggles.

Of the rest of the cast, none distinguished themselves except for Lady Macduff, played by Ruth Gemmel. Her attractiveness is probably part of the reason I responded especially to her, but her delivery was also good.

All right, I understand this production was made for school purposes. I don't think that excuses its dullness. If some people enjoy it, and can get into Shakespeare because of it, that's great. I don't think it would have worked on me when I was in school, though, and if I were a teacher I would think twice about using this. The production is charismaless, and there isn't much acting going on. To engage students, I'd pick Shakespeare movies like Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo+Juliet or, if it has to be Macbeth, the Ian McKellen/Judi Dench version. Or, frankly, any other version besides this one.

This Macbeth reminds me enormously of the 1992 version of As You Like It, which is equally modern, bleak and, as I see it, uninspired (I rated it a 4 out of 10). You'd almost think they were made by the same person. But in Macbeth, we at least have the gorgeous, capable Greta to shine in the surrounding darkness.

Judged by the standard of Shakespeare movies in general, this movie is hard put to even approach mediocrity. But, because of Greta's performance, I will be kind and call it average.

My rating of this rather paltry Macbeth, thusly, is a just 5 out of 10.


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