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Macbeth on film

I am terribly sorry to say that this will be a relatively short post. Here's what I can recommend as far as film versions of Macbeth:

About 4 years ago, the BBC did a short series of films called Shakespeare Re-Told. They did three comedies (two of which are part of my Brush Up Your Shakespeare Month agenda - Much Ado About Nothing, which was fabulous, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I've not yet watched, but which I expect to be brilliant) and Macbeth. The BBC Re-Told version of Macbeth stars the delightful James McAvoy as "Joe Macbeth" and Keeley Hawes as "Ella Macbeth", his wife. The witches are "bin men", and the entire story is set in a restaurant, of which Duncan is the celebrity (hands-off) chef/owner. Macbeth is his right-hand man, and Malcolm (Duncan's son) is in training. It's an excellent, if disturbing, remake of Macbeth that preserves the key plot elements, although all the murders (including Banquo and Macduff's family) take place off-screen, apart from the final confrontation between Macduff and Macbeth. (I'll give you a Clue to the ending: Macduff, in the kitchen, with the knife.)

Scotland, PA is another retelling of Macbeth, set in a small town. In a diner, owned by Duncan, in which "Joe 'Mac' McBeth" is the cook and his wife, "Pat McBeth", is the manager and brains of the operation. The film features Christopher Walken as a vegetarian police lieutenant who thinks something shady's going on.

It's been years since I've seen it, but the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth starring Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench is worth a look if you're interested in a classical staging (to say nothing of having two such excellent actors at the helm, even if it was 30 years ago and before they were named peers of the realm).

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
robinellen
Jun. 17th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
I really should get one of these, since this play is the one with which I have the least familiarity (having never read it).
kellyrfineman
Jun. 17th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
It's the shortest of the dramas, and one of the shortest of the plays, period, so if you decide to read it, it won't take long. (It has a lot of great quotes!) The "classic" one is probably best, since it has the original text. The other two decidedly do not.
p_sunshine
Jun. 17th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
I wonder what it is about Macbeth that just screams "Diner!"
kellyrfineman
Jun. 17th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Beats me why they're both in restaurants. And both named "Joe Macbeth". Although perhaps the Shakespeare Re-Told folks stole that from Scotland, PA as an homage.

In the Shakespeare Re-Told version, Malcolm mentions Gordon Ramsey's name, and is told that it's considered bad luck to say that name aloud, so they always refer to him as "the Scottish chef." That cracked me up, how they integrated the superstition about saying Macbeth's name except in rehearsal or performance within the film itself.
writerjenn
Jun. 17th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
"Christopher Walken as a vegetarian police lieutenant"

Made my day.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 19th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
It's an accurate character description.
dotificus
Jun. 18th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
I haven't had a chance to read any of your Twelfth Night posts! I'm falling behind in class. But I had to pop in here to say THRONE OF BLOOD! Have you seen Kurosawa's THRONE OF BLOOD? It is a MUST see. The Wood coming to the "castle" is utterly dreamlike and cool.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 19th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I forgot to mention THRONE OF BLOOD, which I knew about, but haven't seen. (Harold Bloom says it's the best film adaptation of MACBETH yet, even with its dramatic departures in narrative. I take it on face value that he's right about the dramatic departures, although I can't be sure.)
beckylevine
Jun. 18th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
I would like to see how Judi Dench did Lady M. Might have to look that up.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 19th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I saw it years ago, and if memory serves, she did a good job. As you might expect.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 30th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
Shakespeare Retold
What a wonderful month of posts. I just LOVED SR. We even bought it (my dh is a Shakespeare prof so he collects stuff like this) we loved it so much. My kids were shocked to see Moaning Myrtle doing something so wild!
kellyrfineman
Jun. 30th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Shakespeare Retold
I totally forgot that was Moaning Myrtle - she was so fantastic in that role. Glad you're enjoying the posts!!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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