Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Alternate title: The Tragedy Of Macbeth
United Kingdom/USA, 1971. Columbia Pictures, Playboy Productions, Caliban Films. Screenplay by Roman Polanski, Kenneth Tynan, based on the play by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Gilbert Taylor. Produced by Andrew Braunsberg. Music by The Third Ear Band. Production Design by Wilfred Shingleton. Costume Design by Anthony Mendleson. Film Editing by Alastair McIntyre.
Roman Polanski returned to filmmaking for the first time after the brutal murder of his wife Sharon Tate and their unborn baby by the Manson family, and the project he undertook was this visually bold adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy. In it, Macbeth (Jon Finch) takes the throne of Scotland by murdering the present king and using the divination of a group of witches to aid him. All is not well after the coup, however, when corruption comes from within, his wife (Francesca Annis) starting to suffer from guilt and his son growing up to seek revenge upon him and take him to task for his actions. The dialogue is handled skillfully, with Polanski’s energetic direction never allowing the pace to slow down for a moment. Curiously enough, the film was produced by Hugh Hefner’s Playboy productions, though don’t let that lead you into thinking it’s in any way a Playmate Video of any kind: the only major nudity comes from the ladies playing the aged witches. Exciting stuff, this is a memorable film of one of the Bard’s better-known works.
The Criterion Collection: #726