Review by Elaine Ferguson
Starring: Jon Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw, Nicholas Selby
Director: Roman Polanski
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: Widescreen Anamorphic - 2.35:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Length: 140 Minutes
Release Date: May 7, 2002
done is done. Things without all remedy should be without regard.” -
1970, when it was rumored that Roman Polanski was directing and Playboy
Production with Hugh Hefner at the helm was producing a screen adaptation of MacBeth, speculations ran rampant.
Many expected a film filled with nudity and sex, instead the team
produced a graphic X-rated movie --- of the violent variety.
The film has now been reissued with an R rating, which seems appropriate.
While there is a good deal of nudity, including the famous Lady MacBeth
nude sleepwalking scene, very little of it is of the Playboy bunny sort.
This DVD is not for the squeamish; Polanksi’s production does an
excellent job of displaying the look and the feel of the barbaric era, filled
with many bloody scenes and beheadings. However,
the film never feels over the top with the violence, it all is well done within
context of the story.
on location in rugged North Wales, the terrain plays a key role in establishing
the ambiance of the film. When we
meet MacBeth (Jon Finch) with his friend, Banquo (Martin Shaw), he is triumphant
and powerful. The two come upon three witches, who prophesy that MacBeth will
become king and Banquo’s descendants will also serve as kings.
As an aside they mention that MacBeth will not only hold the Glamis
title, but Thane of Cawdor as well. Yet,
because the Thane of Cawdor is alive, the two warriors do not take this claim
seriously. So in the morning when they receive word that MacBeth is now
indeed the Thane of Cawdor, the two men are stunned. From here as a result of his ambition, the prophecy of the
witches and the goading of his wife, the seeds of destruction are deeply planted
in the mind of MacBeth.
MacBeth is passed over by the King for the title Prince of Cumberland, he
returns home dejected to prepare for a visit from King Duncan (Nicholas Shelby).
While talking to his wife, Lady MacBeth immediately makes the stunning
proclamation that the King shall not see the morning light.
Francesca Annis’ performance as the powerful and evil Lady MacBeth is
very well done in the first half of the movie.
However, the second half of the film begins to focus less on the
characters and more on the violence. So,
as a result the downward spiral of her character is treated rather
look of the film is not pristine or sharp by any means.
The transfer is grainy and that plays well within the context of the
film. You get the feeling that it
is should not look as sharp as say a modern film such as Gladiator. The
widescreen version does maintain the original theatrical aspect ration of
audio was disappointing. The Dolby Digital 2.0 can be difficult to hear at
times. With the combination of
language of that time period (your thees and thous) and the fact often the
characters are speaking so low, I found it necessary to turn on the subtitles.
disappointing that Columbia Pictures did not manage to convince Polanski, Hefner
or any of the stars to do a commentary. Considering
the acclaim of this Shakespearean adaptation along with the age of the film, and
the fact that the three leads remain alive it would seem that a commentary would
be included. Even the menu is just
a simple photo of King MacBeth. The
disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish and Portuguese, as well as