7.6/10
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Macbeth (1948)

Passed | | Drama, History, War | 23 June 1950 (France)
Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writer:

William Shakespeare (by)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Orson Welles ... Macbeth
Jeanette Nolan ... Lady Macbeth
Dan O'Herlihy ... Macduff
Roddy McDowall ... Malcolm
Edgar Barrier ... Banquo
Alan Napier ... A Holy Father
Erskine Sanford ... Duncan
John Dierkes ... Ross
Keene Curtis ... Lennox
Peggy Webber ... Lady Macduff / The Three
Lionel Braham ... Siward
Archie Heugly Archie Heugly ... Young Siward
Jerry Farber Jerry Farber ... Fleance
Christopher Welles Christopher Welles ... Macduff Child
Morgan Farley ... Doctor
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Storyline

In fog-dripping, barren and sometimes macabre settings, 11th-century Scottish nobleman Macbeth is led by an evil prophecy and his ruthless yet desirable wife to the treasonous act that makes him king. But he does not enjoy his newfound, dearly-won kingship... Restructured, but all the dialogue is Shakespeare's. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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Entertainment Greatness . . . That Only Motion Picture Magic Can Bring !

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

23 June 1950 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Макбет See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mercury Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(cut) | (premiere) | (restored video)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Welles' Mercury Theater's first theatrical success had been the "Voodoo Version" of "Macbeth" staged in Harlem in 1936. This was an all-black production set in Haiti. Despite numerous positive reviews, Percy Hammond, of the Herald Tribune, gave the production a weak review. Welles encouraged the drummers in the production to chant spells against Hammond who got sick and died in less than 48 hours. See more »

Goofs

Duncan and his men renew their baptismal vows with a prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
The ThreeThe ThreeThe Three: Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The scene in England (in which the Holy Father suddenly appears, and informs Macduff and Malcolm of what has happened during their self-imposed exile) was originally shown with no background music, and is presented this way in the restored full-length version on video. In the edited 89-minute version, background music was added at a climactic moment, presumably to add more emotion to the scene. See more »

Connections

Version of Twelfth Night (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

Dark Adaptation of a Dark Play
12 June 2001 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

Orson Welles's version of "Macbeth" makes a dark play even darker. Welles always has his own particular take on everything, and while this is an imperfect movie, it is certainly interesting.

The most noticeable feature of this adaptation is how dark everything is. Almost every scene and every set has barely enough light to let us see what is happening, accentuating the cheerless nature of the plot itself. Sometimes this is effective, but at other times it might have been better to give the viewer a break from the gloom, and to put the focus more on the characters and a little less on the atmosphere.

Macbeth the character is portrayed here in a rather different light than usual. He comes across as rather helpless and not in control of his fate, instead of as the usual stronger Shakespearean tragic hero whose strength is undone by his own tragic flaw. While the three witches seem more in control of the action than does Macbeth himself, most of the apparitions they create are not shown, with the focus being more on Macbeth's reaction. The text itself is also quite different in places, with some lines being switched to new or different characters, and many scenes re-arranged. In all of these respects, viewers will have varying opinions as to how well these decisions work.

While the result is certainly not a masterpiece like some of Welles' other films, his creative influence is clear throughout. Welles fans and Shakespeare fans should definitely see this adaptation and decide for themselves.


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